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The small Aboriginal community of Hope Vale in Far North Queensland is now home to an 80 hectare banana plantation, a new agricultural business that is providing 40 fulltime jobs and casual work for a number of locals.
In 2012, workers completed the first stage of the plantation with 16,800 banana plants across 20 hectares. Training and industry qualifications were also made available through Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) to locals to construct the 302 mega-litre irrigation dam that supports the banana farm.
Manager of the Hope Vale Banana Farm, Kenny Reid, said that opening up new opportunities had created generational change for the kids of Hope Vale, and some of the younger employees are keen to work longer hours. 'The people’s enthusiasm towards the farm and what’s actually happening is great, the focus is to become financially viable as a farm, stand-alone without funding which as far as I know is one of the first in the horticultural industry within Aboriginal communities,' he said.
Members of the community say the banana farm is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hope Vale. 'It’s a great opportunity for the whole community as well, I think it was the first full time employment I got living in Hope Vale here,' said farm employee Damian Creek.