Innisfail banana growers Frank and Dianne Sciacca.  Picture: Brian Cassey
Innisfail banana growers Frank and Dianne Sciacca. Picture: Brian Cassey

How farmer uses wasps, ants to protect Reef

BANANA grower Frank Sciacca has gone back to the future by using 60-year-old farming practices to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Boogan producer has built ponds to prevent soil run-off, cut chemicals and fertilisers, and employs wasps, beetles, ants and frogs to help grow his "eco-ganic" crops, found in supermarkets with a red wax tip.

"Whatever way you look at it, we're all linked in a big web,'' Mr Sciacca, of Pacific Coast eco-bananas near Innisfail, said.

"It's the house that grows love, that's what it is."

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price will announce in Mackay today more than $19 million in water quality grants for 11 projects to protect the Reef.

"This is about working with landholders and farmers,'' Ms Price said.

"(It) has greatly reduced the resilience of corals to multiple disturbances, particularly in inshore areas.''

Under the Coalition's $201 million reef water quality program, "reef champions" like Mr Sciacca and 250 sugarcane growers signed up to the "Cane Changer" program in the Wet Tropics, will be supported to continue innovation.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which oversees the grants, said funding would flow to projects in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, the Burdekin, Mossman and the Mary River.

"A healthy reef needs clean water,'' the Foundation's Anna Marsden said.

"The accumulated impacts of climate change, poor water quality and other local stresses are having a dire effect on the Reef.

"That's why we have to do everything we can to build the Reef's resilience, right now.''