Horticulture

Fruitful planning

By Country News

A push is under way for investment in state-of-the-art sorting technology aimed at keeping Goulburn Valley fruit production globally competitive.

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum said representatives from Jeftomson Orchards met with the Federal Government recently, seeking assistance in bringing world class sorting and packing technology to the region.

Mr Drum said in a recent meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, it was highlighted that local fruit was globally competitive, but ‘‘on the global stage our system(s) dropped below global efficiencies in the packing process’’.

‘‘Investment in this cutting-edge technology would fully optimise all grades of fruit which would lead to the elimination of waste and greater returns to growers at the farm gate,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘Fruit growers tell us we are competitive and efficient in farming practices, with water practices.

‘‘Whilst the picking process is expensive, we can get fruit into the shed at reasonable cost.

‘‘It’s what happens in the shed, that’s where we lose our competitive edge.’’

Mr Drum said competing fruit-growing nations could have equipment ‘‘light years ahead of what our individual farmers can afford to install’’.

He said there had been a push for more than a year from a group of leading Goulburn Valley fruit growers advocating for world class technology to be implemented.

‘‘The way it has been explained to us is this tech will optimise every piece of fruit in a state-of-the-art sorting process and packing facility,’’ Mr Drum said.

He said the vast majority of the infrastructure investment was likely to be contributed by the industry itself.

Mr Drum was confident the broader industry could benefit from and utilise such an investment.

‘‘The way it has been put to us ... this is an opportunity to push the whole industry forward ... not just one or two businesses.’’

Mooroopna orchardist Peter Hall said it was ‘‘good that private investment is being considered’’.

‘‘It supports confidence and enthusiasm for my industry,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘The question of whether a private group can attract others depends on a commercial proposition being put to growers.’'