The papaya R&D levy is currently being invested in key genetic work to improve the quality of Australian papaya. Read more in the R&D snapshot below. For the latest on how the industry’s marketing levy is being put to use, check out the marketing snapshot.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The selection process for appointing an independent chair for the papaya Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) has recently been completed. Information on the SIAP chair will be made available on Hort Innovation’s Papaya grower page shortly. The page will also continue to make available summaries from the SIAP’s meetings.

The Strategic Investment Plan

A Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) is the roadmap that helps ensure levy investment decisions align with individual industry priorities. It is used to guide decision-making in levy spending, and represents a balanced view of stakeholders in the industry.

Hort Innovation is currently consulting with growers and other industry stakeholders to finalise new SIPs for each industry by the end of the calendar year.

To learn more about the SIP process, visit Hort Innovation’s SIP Portal.

Any questions?

As well as the Papaya grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions on the papaya program. For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Craig Perring.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

New genetic targets to improve quality in papaya (PP15000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? With a focus on improving the quality of Australian papaya, this project will assist breeding now and in the near-future, and support industry development. It has five key sub-projects:

  • Breeding to improve flavour and other important traits in commercial papaya
  • Collection of papaya germplasm and the development of a related database, to provide a resource to increase the genetic base of Australian papaya
  • Molecular studies to assist breeding for papaya
  • Papaya Ringspot Virus Type P (PRSV-P) resistance work, for crop protection
  • Employment of an industry development officer (IDO).

What’s the latest update? The project began in May 2016, carrying on from previous papaya breeding work. Below are some of the key updates:

  • Breeding work continues to look at developing new cultivars for both red and yellow papayas with improved flesh flavour and other traits (identified through consensus by the industry). Populations of 11 crosses have been planted across six farm sites in Queensland since early 2015, with one particular line consistently having the best yield and eating-quality traits across the sites in which it is planted. It has been selected for further breeding.
  • There has been collection and propagation of papaya germplasm, with field plantings to be undertaken at various locations in North Queensland. The lines represent the best cultivars as well as advanced breeding material from Australian and international breeding programs.
  • Standardised protocols for assessing papaya fruit quality traits are under development.
  • Molecular markers to select for major genetic components are under development, to save time and cost associated with traditional evaluation and selection.
  • Progress towards improved PRSV-P resistance is underway.
  • Through the IDO and scientific publications, industry communications and networking, knowledge related to papaya breeding, molecular breeding, bioinformatics and tissue culture of papaya crops has been taken to growers and other stakeholders.

papaya-breeding

Tissue culture plants in the study


MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

The final year of the industry’s three-year strategic marketing plan continues to build on the long-term objective of increasing the demand of the domestic market for papaya and papaw. The goal has been to increase total household penetration from 8 per cent to 12 per cent by 2018 (already grown to currently 12.2 per cent) and to increase average weight of purchase (AWOP) from $16 to $20 by 2018 (currently at $17.85).

Continuing to primarily target new and small-scale families, the papaya marketing program has been strongly focussed on social media and PR during the first quarter the 2016/17 financial year. The program has also seen continued work with current ambassador Caitlin Reid, a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher.

Media (seasonal releases), PR and social media will continue to play an active role throughout the entire year’s marketing.

Upcoming activity – to be reported on in upcoming editions of Hortlink – will also involve participation at baby and parenting expos in Sydney and Melbourne. These expos provide a great way to directly target parents-to-be and new families through education that attaches an emotional message. Expos are an opportune time to talk about the usage opportunities for the fruit and promote the health messages for both mothers and babies.

A strong in-store demonstration campaign is also planned for the autumn flush, which will target 200 Coles and Woolworths stores.

GROWER PROFILE

NELLIE & TREVOR LANE, TREVELLIE FARMING, QLD

In 2014 Nellie Lane, then in book keeping, and her husband Trevor, a diesel mechanic, gave up their day jobs to follow their farming dream. They purchased property in Dimbulah, Queensland, and now grow papaya, as well as citrus.

“We’ve been picking for less than 12 months so we’re very new to the papaya industry. While it definitely has its challenges, I think we’re doing alright for first-timers,” Nellie said.

Nellie grew up farming and, as well as her experience on the family citrus farm to draw from, she and Trevor have been lucky to be able to call on Nellie’s uncle, Papaya Australia’s Gerard Kath, for advice. “My father also grew red papaya for a few years,” Nellie said.

Nellie and Trevor are currently picking 2.5 hectares of papaya and have planted another 2.5. They’re also growing 1500 lime trees on the farm, which is 44 hectares overall.

The pair intend to plant new papaya trees every six months, totalling 2.5 hectares a year, to keep production going. “We’re eventually going to run out of room to plant, so we’ll probably look at leasing or, when we make our millions, buy next door!”

Nellie said the first year of production was particularly challenging, and is eager to see more support and educate growers trying to establish themselves.

“When we first started we felt very isolated and cut off from the industry. We had this rot inside the fruit when we first started picking and Trevor was pulling his hair out trying to find someone who could talk to us about it,” Nellie said.

“The rot went away and then we had a problem with fruit breaking down due to a fungus, but Trevor was all over it. He was talking every day to the agents and he trialled different post-harvest fungicides and cleaned the whole shed. For the past few weeks we haven’t had a single piece of fruit fail. I’m pretty proud of him, especially considering he has only been farming for two years.”

Nellie said finding people to work on the farm has also been hard, but the couple are in the process of building on-site accommodation to help change this.

“We’re two hours west of Cairns and 15km from the closest town, which is basically a pub. If backpackers or anyone looking for work doesn’t have transport, that rules them out. There’s no accommodation. It’s been a real battle to find good people who will stick around,” Nellie said.

“Very soon the mango season starts and everyone just leaves and chases the money. We try and make it nice for them to work here and give them a reason to come out here. Hopefully the accommodation will make it easier for us.”

Nellie said there has been a conscious effort from the papaya industry as far as marketing and researching new varieties.

“The red papaya industry is growing and getting a bigger name. They are far more liked and well known. We grow the RB1 variety and at the moment they’re being really good to us. In the last few years a lot of effort and research has gone into breeding the new varieties.”

Trevor recently attended the National Biological Farming Conference and Expo in Cairns. “He said it was amazing and drove home the need to make a conscious effort about what we’re leaving behind for our kids,” Nellie said. “Afterwards we released some live beneficial insects into the trees so that the good bugs can eat the bad bugs, which reduces the need to spray. This was in an effort to control fruitspotting bug, which is a big problem.”

Nellie and Trevor are determined to have good relationships with agents and customers, and see a bright future in the industry. “We just want to make a good name for ourselves and send quality fruit rather than focus on quantity. We want Trevellie Farming to mean quality fruit.”

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