In an Australian first, an on-farm training project in the Whitsundays is allowing 9 Japanese trainees to experience the full cycle of growing, from planting seeds through to picking fruit.

The trainees are participating in the Whitsunday Agri-Knowledge Sharing Project, a unique initiative supported by Bowen Gumlu Growers AssociationWhitsunday Regional CouncilTAFE Queensland, and TIQ’s Study Queensland team.

The project provides Japanese agriculture graduates with hands-on training in areas such as agronomy, seeding, planting and harvesting.

As well as giving the trainees practical skills, it aims to foster positive long-term relationships between Queensland and Japan, with flow-on benefits to trade and training partnerships.

Trainee Kenta Noda, a graduate from Tokyo University of Agriculture, began his first practical placement at Bowen’s BQ Seedlings in March this year.

BQ Seedlings owner Neville Travers-Jones said 26-year-old Kenta was an enthusiastic trainee who had learned a great deal during his placement.

‘Kenta has demonstrated an open and inquiring mind and a passion in the art of reading plants,’ he said.

‘He is now confident in the development of growing medium and water quality, and understands the factors critical to the even germination of seed through his work with our seeding team.

‘This training has complemented Kenta’s academic studies and will give him the tools to enter the agriculture industry in Japan.’

Kenta agreed his time at BQ Seedlings had been extremely valuable.

‘I was excited to come to Australia to learn more about agriculture and I have already learnt so much,’ he said.

‘In the three months I’ve worked for BQ Seedlings, I have learnt about different seedling varieties, temperature for germination and checking seedling conditions.’

Kenta is now continuing his training at Brak Pak farm, also in Bowen, which grows tomatoes, pumpkins and mangoes.

At Brak Pak, he is helping to plant and care for the seedlings he germinated during his last placement.

The Whitsunday Agri-Knowledge Sharing Project aims to bring together the next generation of Japanese agriculture with local Queensland farmers to help stimulate agricultural trade and understanding between Japan and Queensland, especially regional Queensland.

It is has the potential to attract hundreds more trainees in the future.

The project is co-funded by the International Education and Training Partnership Fund under the International Education and Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016–2026.

Agriculture and international education are both export priorities in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.