Piñata Farms is a leading pineapple, strawberry and specialty mango producer based in South-East Queensland. (Credit : Piñata Farms)
Piñata Farms is a leading pineapple, strawberry and specialty mango producer based in South-East Queensland. (Credit : Piñata Farms)
27 September 2018

Leading South-East Queensland agricultural businesses are harvesting some fresh ideas from University of Queensland agribusiness students, while giving them hands-on experience in the industry.

Students in UQ’s Bachelor of Agribusiness program are acting as ‘consultants’ in the operations of nine major SEQ businesses, in the produce, dairy, beef, sugar cane and food manufacturing sectors.

Dr Phil Currey from the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences said the program enabled students to put what they'd learned in the previous three years into practice.

“This project is the final assessment component of their degree, and aims to create opportunities for students to be employable, by applying theory in a real business,” he said.

“The students are referred to a business, they present as consultants, and are expected to use their skills to research a problem set by the client and then share their findings and recommendations.

“These recommendations are the clients' to execute, and our students use what they’ve learned to give clients the tools and confidence to make those changes.”

Piñata Farms, based at Wamuran on the Sunshine Coast, is a family farming business which has taken on four UQ students to review its management reporting systems.

Piñata Farms’ Chief Financial Officer Chris Jones said the project offered fresh perspectives into how it could improve as a business.

“The students are looking at measures such as what drives price and quality, what other agribusinesses are doing, what industry is doing and what might be useful benchmarks for us,” he said.

“We want to continue to grow, so we’re always looking for new ideas and new opportunities.

“A collaboration like this also fosters career pathways into agribusiness and helps us identify potential employees.

“For example, we decided to hire 2016 graduate Reannan Schultz, who now works fulltime at Piñata Farms, after participating in a similar project.

“We’re extremely proud to be part of this project and it’s a way to give back to the agribusiness sector and to support the next generation of farming professionals.”

Image above: UQ's School of Agriculture and Food Sciences (from left) tutor Janine Basha, students William Hudson and Alice Freemantle, and lecturer and course coordinator Dr Phil Currey.

Media: Dr Phil Currey, p.currey@uq.edu.au, +61 7 5460 1107; Chris Jones, +61 7 5497 4295; Dominic Jarvis, dominic.jarvis@uq.edu.au, +61 413 334 924.