19 August 2014
Mossman cane farmer, Australian Canefarmers (ACFA) director and Next Gen Officer, Gerard Puglisi, has been named a finalist in the prestigious Australian Farmer of the Year Awards.
In the last few years, Gerard has joined with a progressive group of farmers and entrepreneurs in his region to embark on cocoa production, which has earned him his finalist position in the Diversification Farmer of the Year category.
“I am very pleased to be named as a finalist in this category. It’s a real honor to be recognised by such a respected forum and to be considered amongst so many deserving candidates,” Mr Puglisi said.
“Having a crop like cocoa enables us to even out the uncertainties of a commodity like sugar. It helps us make sure there is a future in the farm and it can pass on to the next generation.” Gerard said.
“The timing of the cocoa harvest also complements the sugar industry well, with farmers better able to use farm labour and utilise all their available land”
“There is a great opportunity for cocoa to be planted in small, less productive areas on sugarcane farms.”
On top of their 185 hectares of sugarcane, Puglisi Farming have a 2 hectare cocoa plantation which currently produces cocoa pods to the only commercial producer of Australia-origin chocolate, Daintree Estates Chocolate.
Gerard, with his wife Terese, have further diversified their agricultural business by recently opening ‘Sweet Farm Tours, Australia’s first sugarcane and cocoa experience.
Based in the breathtaking Whyanbeel Valley, the educational tour gives visitors the opportunity to learn everything they wanted to know about Australian origin cocoa and a working sugarcane farm.
Gerard is up against two other finalists in the Diversification Farmer of the Year category and will travel to Melbourne next month to attend a dinner and awards ceremony hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural.
Gerard Puglisi- 0428 988 136
Amanda Sheppard- Communications- (07) 3839 1900
A press-sized photos of Gerard are available upon request.