Seventeen cherry growers in Australia’s Orange region are taking part in a fruit fly trial in a bid to boost export opportunities.
The Australian government will contribute A$343,000 to the trial, which will collect data from fruit fly traps to assess the cherry growers’ pest management systems.
Barnaby Joyce, deputy prime minister and minister for agriculture and water resources, said managing Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) was critical to Australia’s horticultural export trade, with many of Australia’s trading partners having a fruit fly free requirement.
“The project is about providing assurances to destination markets and supporting smaller exporters land their produce on foreign shores,” Joyce said. “The cherry on top is being able to deliver a program for NSW cherry growers designed to provide a real increase in exports and a sweeter deal for farmers across New South Wales (NSW).
“The project, which aims to scientifically prove the effectiveness of Australia’s pest control mechanisms to South East Asian markets, is supported by both the NSW Farmers' Association and NSW Cherry Growers, who believe it will be beneficial for the entire industry.”
Fiona Hall, owner of Caernarvon Cherry Co, told Fairfax that the government-funded project would allow give cherry exporters the data needed for future trade negotiations.
“To date there’s been nil [Qfly] detected, which is consistent over several years which suggests we don’t really get Queensland fruit fly until after the cherry season,” Hall said. “We’ve never actually detected Queensland fruit fly, [which] keeps us out of a lot of [export] markets so what we need is the data.”
Federal member for Calare, Andrew Gee, said 68 fruit fly traps would be deployed and monitored by the NSW Local Land Services
“Measures to protect these farms from fruit fly include pre-harvest monitoring, with associated chemical treatment where required, and post-harvest inspection,” Gee said. “NSW cherry exports have almost doubled since 2007, going from 525 tonnes that year to 1,042 tonnes in 2016. In 2014/15 cherry production was worth A$18.5m to the NSW economy.
"As a trading nation producing far more than we could ever consume, exports underpin the profitability of our agriculture sector.”