6 July, 2016

Fruit fly arsenal to strengthen through $5M investment

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Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) was today successful in securing a $1.65 million grant to strengthen the industry’s fight against a species of fruit fly that is stifling the nation’s export trade.

Awarded through the Australian Government Rural Research and Development for Profit program, the grant will facilitate a five-year program which aims to erase trade partners’ concerns about Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Medfly) in Australia.

Hort Innovation Chief Executive Officer John Lloyd said the funding complements a further $3.4 million toward the project from Hort Innovation, Murdoch University (Western Australia) and research partners.

“This hard-fought Rural Research and Development for Profit program grant is a win for the $9 billion Australian horticulture industry as it will help open up access to trade partner countries that have stringent Medfly requirements,” he said.

Mr Lloyd said before agreeing to accept imports, countries such as Japan and China require evidence that postharvest treatments such as Cold Treatment – where flies expire after extended exposure to low temperatures – work to control Medfly risk.

A dedicated facility in Western Australia conducted such treatments until it closed in 2015, and as part of this project, a state-of-the-art laboratory at Murdoch University will be equipped to continue that work.

Also part of the project, researchers will:

  • Develop ‘data packages’ for key export commodities such as apples, avocados, blueberries, capsicum, cherries, pears and strawberries. This will involve a series of trials using treatments, repeatedly, to convey clear patterns in results. The aim is to demonstrate the treatments are effective against Medfly
  • Develop new technologies to help treat produce prior to export, including the aim to create small-scale, mobile equipment for growers to use cost effectively in packing sheds
  • Identify treatments that can become standard protocols for use by fruit and vegetable exporters.

Horticulture Innovation Australia delivers more than $100 million in research, development and marketing activities across the horticulture industry each year with funding from the Australian Government, grower levies and other sources.  

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