Deal for SA fruit fly treatment plant in final stage
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed confirmation from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud that a deal to build a fruit fly 'end-of-point' treatment plant for South Australian growers is close to being finalised.
The Mayo MP had asked the Minister in Question Time for an update on her advocacy on behalf of fruit growers in her region to build the 'end-of-point' treatment facility so producers can access overseas markets currently out of reach because of fruit fly and other biosecurity concerns.
Minister Littleproud said the Government was in the "final determinations" of the facility to make sure it met protocols with export partners and that industry was consulted.
"... we're making sure any investment we partner with the South Australian Government or industry itself makes sense and meets those protocols and ensures we protect those industries in South Australia and it also complements our national fruit fly program, a $16.9 million program," Minister Littleproud said.
"In fact, we have released sterile fruit fly within the electorate of Mayo to try and breed out fruit fly so we're working consistently with states and I can assure the Member that it will be very soon that those final determinations will be made around that facility."
Irradiation or 'end-of-point treatment' is a process that sterilises food products and other manufactured items such as medical instruments. The process treats food, food packaging, and manufacturing goods to eliminate or reduce microbes and insects, which in turn extends shelf-life and reduces the risk of foodborne illness.
"I have been advocating on behalf of local growers and working with the South Australian Government to create a business case for a treatment plant in the State so I welcome the assurance of the Agriculture Minister that they are close to finalising Federal funding arrangements for this important project," Rebekha said.
"Our cherry crop represents 95 per cent of South Australia’s production and around 11 percent of the national export market and our strawberry industry is export-ready and actively targeting markets in Thailand, Singapore and Kuala Lumpar.
"An end-point-treatment plant will provide growers with a program that satisfies targeted export market requirements and will have the potential to open up new markets.
“In tough economic times and in uncertain international markets our SA producers do amazing work, off their own back, out of their own pocket, to build their export networks and this project will just support their efforts."
South Australia has maintained a management program to protect the State from fruit fly and is recognised as the only mainland state free of both Q-fly and Med-fly. However, fruit-growing regions in the Adelaide Hills and Riverland have been under siege in recent years from serious Mediterranean fruit fly outbreaks.
The Adelaide Hills has several key export markets for high-value cold-climate fruits including cherries, strawberries, apples, and pears that require the maintenance of a fruit fly-free status. End treatment processes are important to mitigate damage to key export markets in the event of small fruit fly outbreaks.