$5m grant will strengthen fruit fly arsenal
Horticulture Innovation Australia has secured a $1.65 million grant to fund a five-year program aimed at easing trade partners’ concerns about Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Medfly) in Australia.
The grant was awarded through the Australian Government Rural Research and Development for Profit program.
The funding complements a further $3.4 million toward the project from Hort Innovation, Murdoch University (Western Australia) and research partners.
Hort Innovation Chief Executive Officer John Lloyd said medfly is stifling the nation’s export trade.
“This grant is a win for the $9 billion 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.