Coca-Cola helps reef project
COCA-COLA has poured a million dollar sweetener into a project to reduce the impact of sugar cane farming on the Great Barrier Reef and other waterways.
Reef Catchments land and water operations manager Will Higham said The Great Barrier Reef Freshwater Revitalisation Project, which began last year, had cleaned up an estimated 24,000 megalitres of water, which was running off 19 farms.
“This is three times the size of Dumbleton Weir,” Mr Higham said.
The Reef Catchments initiative, one of the largest funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation outside a developing country, had helped Mackay cane farmers to implement new ideas, Mr Higham said.
As well as improving water quality, the project focuses on soil health, farm production efficiency and precision planning.
Some growers were trying out new rotational crops, some were experimenting with cane harvesters and others were working to improve irrigation management, Mr Higham said.
“We’re specifically working with 19 cane farmers who have been chosen because they’re cutting edge or innovative. By having an agronomist who can work with the growers, the growers are better able to implement their ideas.”
Mr Higham said a communication plan had been developed to share the findings with growers around the world.
The Coca-Cola Foundation had a few reasons to support the Mackay-based project, he said.
“Sugar is a major ingredient in Coca-Cola products, so it had a direct link to the supply chain for Coca-Cola.”
Coca-Cola’s chief executive officer had signed a water neutrality initiative, and the Great Barrier Reef was recognised as one of the most biologically diverse global environmental icons, Mr Higham said.
Reef Catchments is hoping to gain further funding from foundation so it can extend the project to growers in other areas.