Post-harvest fruit fly treatment plant for SA

17 Dec 2021

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the news that the Federal Government will fund a post-harvest, fruit fly treatment plant for South Australian growers.

"I have been advocating on behalf of local growers and working with the South Australian Government and the Federal Government to create a business case for an SA treatment plant for some time so today’s announcement of a $30 million national fruit fly resilience plan is wonderful news," Rebekha said.

"A post-harvest treatment plant will provide growers with a program that satisfies targeted export market requirements and will have the potential to open up new markets.

"Our cherry crop represents 95 per cent of South Australia’s production and around 11 per cent of the national export market and our strawberry industry is export-ready and actively targeting markets in Thailand, Singapore and Kuala Lumpar.

“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.

“Horticulture accounts for 13 per cent ($1.82 billion) of South Australia’s annual primary industries and agribusiness revenue of just over $14 billion

“Having a post-harvest treatment plant also reduces transport costs for growers by an estimated $800,000pa, and it reduces emissions by 455 tonnes a year because our produce is treated here rather than being sent interstate

Post-harvest treatment, or irradiation, 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.

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.

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