CBH rectruitment drive sees all hands on deck for 2021-22 grains harvest

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
CBH Group Geraldton Port Zone manager Duncan Gray.
Camera IconCBH Group Geraldton Port Zone manager Duncan Gray. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman, Cally Dupe

The State’s biggest grain handler says it has a big enough workforce to process the millions of tonnes of grain set to reach Geraldton Port in the coming months.

Despite earlier fears of a labour shortage, CBH Group Geraldton Port Zone manager Duncan Gray said his team was on track to have enough trained staff on deck for the peak of harvest.

Mr Gray said the Geraldton zone required about 230 casual positions, which had all been filled after a CBH recruitment drive.

“This is the first year we’ve done a lot of advertising through Perth because of the concern of availability of people, but overall we aren’t going too bad,” he said.

Mr Gray said there were plenty of inexperienced hands, but it was far better than none at all.

“We are rolling a number of people through training,” he said.

“If people pull out we have a reserve pool. We are probably just a little more nervous about people pulling out this year.”

Geraldton was WA’s first zone to receive grain from the 2021-22 harvest, with a 55-tonne canola delivery reaching port last week.

The 2021-22 grains harvest is upon us.
Camera IconThe 2021-22 grains harvest is upon us. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

Mr Gray said deliveries had been “slow and steady”, and he expected activity to pick up around the third week of October.

“We are still sending off last season’s grain,” he said. “Three more vessels of old season and then we will start to get into the new season’s crop in early November.”

A big proportion of the grain shipped from Geraldton Port are sent to Asia to make cereals, while canola and lupins are mainly sent to Europe and India.

There were high hopes this season’s grain harvest would break all WA records, but estimates have since fallen due to “severe” frost events in the central grain belt and below-average August rainfall for much of the northern and eastern agricultural areas.

The Grain Industry Association of WA’s most recent crop report predicts WA farmers will bring in 19.3 million tonnes, down from the 20.02-million-tonne estimate from August.

A run of warm days over 32C and a lack of rain since August meant a historically early start to the Mid West harvest, but the GIWA report signalled the Geraldton Zone was “still in for a good year”.

“We won’t know where we land till January,” Mr Gray said. “It’s going to be there or thereabouts.”

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