A fresh start in the Australian country

A DECISION to flee war-torn Iraq has led to a successful farming venture for Joe Janabi. The mixed farming producer left his home in Babylon in 1999 amid civil conflict. 

After working in fruit packing around Mildura and Shepparton, Mr Janabi bought his first farm at Kooroongarra near Millmerran last year. 

While he has worked in farming districts around the country, he said the rest of his family - his wife, three daughters and son - have called Brisbane home. 

"We are all Australian, it's where my children grew up,” he said. "They're not farmers though, they never come out to help me on the property. 

"We had a farm in Iraq; it's not something we think of now but if there is a chance to go back when there is peace we might go and visit our farm. 

"We left before the conflict got really bad and left everything behind, because if we had stayed we would have lost everything anyway. 

"I was the first to go over by boat. After seven years I got a permanent visa and brought my family over.” 

Mr Janabi was at the Warwick Sheep Sale last week to consider investing in a flock of his own. 

"We've had goats before but they're a tough job because dingoes and wild dogs would take them and they would jump and ruin the fences,” he said. 

"They're fairly wild goats, you can't control them and they're smart but they're not quite as hardy as sheep. 

"There's a good market for meat sheep; we'd probably want to get 100 head to start off with but this market is fairly dear today.” 

Mr Janabi said he spent three days a week living in a caravan on the farm. "We came to Queensland because we saw more of a chance to start a business here,” he said. 

"I've just planted some apricot trees but I think it could be a couple of years before we get any fruit and we've also got some spring onions, okra and beans at the moment.” 

by Sophie Lester

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