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The Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT) is a ‘microcosm’ of the Australian sugar industry!
Not surprising then, there are many similarities between our society and the industry at large – our topics of interest, existing expertise, and the way we do things! There is also commonality in the way we interact and communicate! Importantly, our dedication to improvement provides us with an underlying need and ability to seek solutions to challenges by using existing knowledge and investigating alternatives. All of this relates to us having a common interest and a sense of belonging to a wider ‘sugar-family’!

As a technologists’ society, we reflect the strengths, weaknesses, issues and needs of our stakeholders. We gather annually to hear about novel and exciting ways of increasing effectiveness and/or efficiency of practices and inputs/outputs, and new or updated technologies. We discuss topics relevant to our industry within the official program, but also informally during tea breaks, lunches and social occasions! We catch-up with colleagues and friends, and celebrate jobs done well! We are inextricably linked by our commitment to sugarcane! It provides us with livelihoods, jobs and careers, prosperity, security, purpose, a past and a future!

The idea of a ‘family’ provides further analogies! An important example is the way we interact with our ‘overseas cousins’ who work and participate in industries that are not too dissimilar from our own! There are differences in the ways they do things - on-farm, in-factory and in-between, in the languages they speak, and in economic, social and cultural characteristics and practices - but we know and understand each other! From a technologist’s point of view, we have opportunities to link with our overseas colleagues via the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT). I am fortunate also to be an office-bearer in that organisation, and encourage you to reach out and interact with others through that society as well, especially as ASSCT is an affiliated member of ISSCT. In the interest of encouraging global interaction, I am pleased to announce that Dr Jean Claude Autrey (Honorary General Secretary of the ISSCT) will be one of our guest speakers in 2019. He is a specialist in several fields, was a former Director of the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), is the current Chancellor of the University of Mauritius, and brings a wealth of knowledge of sugar industries around the world!  I urge you to come and hear his insights!  In addition, his French accent makes him a delight to listen to!

Apart from a global ‘sugar family’, we can also look over the fence at other industries, farming communities and processing facilities! They may be different and sometimes curious, but many of them do things similar to the things we do and they are all pursuing productivity, profitability and sustainability! It is great to compare and contrast, and to determine if there are things we can learn from them.

The 41st ASSCT conference will be held at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Toowoomba 30 April to 3 May 2019. The number “41” is a prime number! This means that it is somewhat special. We therefore also hope to make the Toowoomba Conference “somewhat special”! Our theme is BROADENING OUR HORIZONS –asking delegates to step over the Great Dividing Range and look around, interact with others, learn and listen in novel environments, and partake in the updated format of our conference. As indicated in our recent First Announcement and Call for Papers and Posters, we have encouraged submissions to demonstrate relevance to the sugar industry through impacts on Optimal use of resources, Productivity and profitability, Problem-solving, and/or Our people. This will occur in three full days of presentations and discussions (some science-focused and technical in nature, others more practical and/or commercially-focused) and a half-day of separate field trips for agriculture and manufacturing delegates.

Importantly, the 41st Conference will enable us to continue the evolution of the ASSCT Conference, Sugar Tuesday and other activities into Sugar Week! We will build on what we have, acknowledge our strengths and advantages, and look to the future with vision and broadened perceptions. We will glean information and ideas from our colleagues, sponsors, exhibitors, invited speakers, other industries and from overseas!

The Welcoming Function will be held on the Tuesday evening (30 April), Happy Hour on the Wednesday evening (1 May) and the Gala Dinner, Award Presentation and Closing Ceremony on Thursday night (2 May). I thought it worth mentioning that an interesting Partners Program (Tuesday to Thursday) will include several local attractions and sightseeing opportunities in Toowoomba and the Darling Downs district.  

I urge you to join us in Toowoomba – we think it will be worth it!

Best wishes,
Bernard Schroeder

PS Remember the ASSCT Editor is waiting for submission of papers and/or posters – let him know what you intend and get writing (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)!