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National agriculture - a hive of activity

18 November 2019

You may not realise it but every time you share a meal you celebrate Australia’s farming sector.

According to the National Farmers Federation more than 99 percent of Australia’s agricultural businesses are Australian owned. That’s a statistic that would make many of us feel safe, but with so many farmers contending with one of the worst droughts in living memory, it’s important to remember the ripple effects these climate catastrophes have on us and our food security.

This National Agriculture Day stand with our farming communities, celebrate their achievements and acknowledge a few unsung heroes and heroines along the way. (This year’s AgriFutures Rural Women’s Awardees, for example.)

Seven outstanding rural women got to spruik their business successes publicly throughout 2019, culminating in the Rural Women’s Awards night in September in Canberra at Parliament House. The seven winners join a growing network of motivated women across the country doing things for the land, for farming, for agriculture business, for their communities, for their families and, this year, for bees.

Two state winners, one from Victoria, Claire Moore, and one from Queensland, Natasha Roebig, have bees, bee production and, in Claire’s case, queen bees, on their minds.

Australia’s bee populations remain resilient but for how long is anyone’s guess. Around the world, including in New Zealand, bees are declining. As one of nature’s main pollinators, their loss, through infection, pesticides, climate change, etc., poses a serious food security threat.

Claire Moore Small

Concerned about the challenges facing bee populations across the world, Claire Moore (above) has been studying bee keeping in her spare time for the past 12 years. While working full time, she went to beekeeping clubs after work to learn more from commercial beekeepers. Claire is on a mission to inspire Australian beekeepers to increase their hive numbers and expand their commercial beekeeping operations while also exporting Australia’s healthy and clean bees to the world.

Fascinated by queen bee breeding, Claire decided early on she would prefer to be a queen breeder than a beekeeper for honey. (Claire was named runner-up this year at the AgriFutures awards for her work.)

Natasha Roebig Small

Natasha Roebig (above) stumbled into the world of honey and bees some years ago now when her daughter, Miranda, was born and diagnosed with the skin condition eczema.

Natasha used steroid creams to treat the eczema, but it was thinning her daughter’s skin and her hair was falling out. She and her husband began looking for natural alternatives. Their doctor and naturopath put them on to beeswax and raw honey. They bought a hive and developed a body balm using honey and beeswax for their daughter’s skin, which began to improve.

They also began selling the honey from their hive and a small business began to grow.

Countless hours of research and limited interactive beekeeping opportunities encouraged Natasha’s passion to drive better, larger educational outcomes for beekeepers and people who may be interested in keeping bees.

Working in partnership with the apiary industry, Natasha is establishing an interactive training facility in South-East Queensland, promoting research and ethical and sustainable beekeeping practices.

Jo Palmer Small

AgriFutures 2019 national winner was Jo Palmer (above) from NSW. Her Pointer Remote Roles – an online platform that facilitates remote work opportunities - connects businesses across Australia with talented professionals living in regional, rural and remote regions. It may not be bees, but Jo’s portal is a hive of activity.

This network of qualified and experienced professionals is, according to Jo, enormous, and much of this talent is sitting idle or underutilised, particularly in women.

Pointer Remote Roles provides a valuable pathway for companies, corporations and government agencies to fill positions with the best candidate for the job, regardless of where they live.

For more on the winners.

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