A $6.7 million State Government investment in controlling Queensland fruit fly is set to secure Victorian horticulturalists continued access to lucrative international markets.
Past funding shortages have led to a breakdown in management of the pest, undermining Victorian exports and even domestic market access.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford announced recently that the State Government would invest $6.7 million over the next three years in establishing a state fruit fly co-ordinator and regional grants to ensure industry and the wider community helped control this pest.
“This is great news for the horticulture industry because the Queensland Fruit Fly is our single biggest quarantine issue,” VFF fruit grower Andrew Plunkett said.
The Queensland fruit fly attacks a wide range of host plants, lowering production and making fruit inedible, with the potential to cost fruit growers more than $100 million each year.
Mr Plunkett said managing fruit fly outbreaks is a top priority because at the moment we have to go through a treatment process to eliminate the pest.
“The fruit fly is a menace that’s creating a barrier to unlocking new export markets and makes it harder for us to even maintain the strong reputation of the Victorian horticulture industry,” Mr Plunkett said.
“It is the single biggest impediment to opening up new markets and we need to do everything we can to control any outbreaks.”
The program, which is part of the Government’s Fruit Fly Action Plan, will be facilitated by a state co-ordinator and regional co-ordinators. The VFF welcomed the appointment of industry veteran Cathy Mansfied to the role of state co-ordinator.
“She’s local, based at Tatura in the heart of the Goulburn Valley, she understands the issue, and she can make a real contribution to managing the fruit fly and protecting our produce.
The Victorian horticulture has a farmgate value of $2.4 billion and accounted for nearly $1 billion in exports during 2014-15, equating to 48 per cent of all Australian horticulture exports.