The horticulture industry continues to demonstrate its commitment to best practice farming with the announcement of Zappala Tropicals in Bellenden Ker as the first Hort360 GBR Reef Certified producer.
Launched in August 2020, Hort360 Reef Certification is a key component of the Hort360 Great Barrier Reef (Hort360 GBR) Best Management Practice (BMP) program, funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.
Through the voluntary uptake of Hort360 Reef Certification, industry can demonstrate stewardship towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef whilst reaping the benefits of improved practices and profitability.
Hort360 Manager Scott Wallace congratulated Zappala Tropicals on their certification and commitment to demonstrating best practice environmental stewardship.
“For over a decade, Growcom has been working with growers living on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef to make changes to the way they farm to stop soil, pesticides, and nutrients impacting on Reef water quality,” Mr Wallace said.
“Growcom’s Hort360 GBR program has brought the industry together to record these practice changes showing how individual farms are attaining best management practice and what they need to do to exceed industry standards.
“Through this independently audited certification Zappala Tropicals can now demonstrate they are meeting best practice standards and improving the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef.”
Zappala Tropicals Farm Manager Josh Maunder, said the business was committed to reducing its impact on the Great Barrier Reef and Hort360 GBR has been a valuable tool in helping to achieve this goal.
“We were the first horticultural business to complete all Hort360 GBR modules in 2017, so it was fitting that we become the first Reef Certified business as well,” Mr Maunder said.
“Reef Certification is an important step for us and provides our customers with an assurance that we are operating in accordance with best practice.
“For us, it’s a good news story. A chance to show that horticulture can operate in the Reef catchment in a sustainable and responsible manner.
“The next challenge is educating the consumer, so they understand not only the challenges associated with producing food, but what Certifications like these actually mean.”
Hort360 GBR Reef Certification aligns and leverages current systems used by horticulture businesses which specifically provide a water quality outcome.
“It is recognised that the majority of horticulture businesses operate within a food safety quality assurance system, and that some horticulture businesses also have an environmental certification. These independently audited systems are widely recognised across the horticulture industry supply chain,” Mr Wallace said.
“Whilst these systems satisfy a specific purpose, they are far broader than what is required to achieve Hort360 GBR Reef Certification.
“The Hort360 GBR Reef Certification framework specifically focusses on environmental stewardship and industry best practice standards in Reef catchments that will deliver on farm profitability and improved off farm water quality.”