Funding for successful fruit fly program to cease

By Spencer Fowler Steen

The successful Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Program will cease in June 2020 unless further funding is provided from the Victorian Government to protect the Goulburn Valley’s important fruit industry.

The campaign has successfully reduced the Queensland fruit fly population by 60 per cent since it was introduced in 2017, stopping the flies from attacking a wide range of fruits and vegetables in the region.

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Seema Abdullah said the fruit fly could cause severe damage to the fruit industry, costing the Goulburn Valley millions of dollars if not effectively managed.

“Whilst the program has been successful, for the Victorian Government to not fund this program further would be a huge step backwards in controlling Queensland fruit fly.

“We are currently experiencing growth in exports and there is the ongoing potential for additional growth, and managing fruit fly is critical to the region’s economic sustainability and its clean and green reputation.

“It is important that funding occurs immediately and for future years to protect the industry and the jobs it creates both directly and indirectly,” she said.

The Goulburn Valley has benefited greatly from the current Queensland fruit fly funded efforts and the fruit fly co-ordinator position which has led to improved management, education and control of what is known as a serial pest within the horticultural industry.

The Victorian Government has already contributed $2.4 million ($800 000 per year) to this program with funding scheduled to cease in June.

The GMVRFFP is a partnership between Agriculture Victoria, Fruit Growers Victoria, Cobram and District Fruit Growers Association and Campaspe, Shepparton, Strathbogie, Berrigan and Moira councils as well as Lions International District 201V6.

The program received the Regional Achiever of the Year Award as well as winning first place in the Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Awards.

“It’s an innovative program and proof of its success is the recent awards the program has won and the industry ownership and participation in this project,” Cr Abdullah said.

Greater Shepparton City Council has written to Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes for continued funding of the program.