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UQ research powers Indigenous flower business

UQ News Online - The University of Queensland UQ 
Published: 22 March 2006

Scientific research at The University of Queensland is helping power an Indigenous-run flower and nursery business. 

The Centre for Native Floriculture (CNF) at UQ's Gatton Campus is working with the Dhugamin Community Development and Employment Program (CDEP), based at Hervey Bay, to build the nursery skills of Dhugamin CDEP staff. 

Ian Gordon, the Program Leader of the CNF Capacity Building Program, said four Dhugamin CDEP employees recently completed a three-day training program in plant propagation at the Gatton Campus. 

“The staff used this program on seed sowing, cutting propagation and grafting to improve their proficiency in aspects of plant propagation,” Mr Gordon said. 

“These new skills will help give the business a competitive edge in the domestic and international marketing of floral products.” 

The CNF, which specialises in improving the commercial potential of native flowers and foliage, is jointly funded by the Queensland State Government and UQ as a Smart State initiative of Premier Peter Beattie. Mr Gordon, in collaboration with Dave Brown of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (QDPI&F) and other CNF experts, has developed strong links with 
Indigenous community groups involved in the production of flowers in different areas of Queensland. 

Staff of the CNF and the DPI&F have assisted the Dhugamin CDEP to develop its business selling flowers to florists in the Hervey Bay and Maryborough areas. While proteas have been the main product, Dhugamin CDEP plans to extend its range in the near future - particularly with ‘filler' varieties that can be used to produce mixed bunches and expand retail sales. 

Dhugamin CDEP also operates a nursery unit and a bush tucker unit, and is proposing to branch out into the production of Indigenous trees for use in environmental revegetation work. The intended market would include Landcare groups, farmers, local councils and mining companies. 

“Regional flower growing enterprises developed by Indigenous groups provide part-time and full-time employment opportunities for local communities,” Mr Gordon said. 

“They are sustainable production enterprises and are a great social and economic benefit to the communities,” he said. 

Media inquiries: Susanne Schick - UQ Gatton Campus (07 5460 1229, 0409 265 587). 

Further information/comment: Contact Ian Gordon (07 5460 1235 or 
i.gordon@uq.edu.au) 

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