Article by: Hari Yellina
The Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Area Wide Management programme, which won this year’s Visy Impact Award at Hort Connections 2022, has demonstrated its credentials despite questions surrounding IT’s funding over the previous few years. The program’s efforts to lessen the impact of fruit fly on Australia’s horticultural industry were recognised when the prize was handed at the main horticulture conference in Brisbane last month. The Visy Industry Impact Award honours a person or company that has invested in developing or implementing a system of technology or business practise that is not typical for the industry and has significantly improved best farm practises or reduced costs throughout the value chain.
The Goulburn Murray Valley region is home to high-risk incursions of exotic fruit flies, and the FFAWM programme, in partnership with Plant Health Australia, uses its communication and engagement platform to include the local population in finding, detecting, and reporting such incursions. From a group of 16 industry contenders from all throughout Australia, the programme was named the victor. The program’s planned and highly effective area-wide management strategy, according to Tony Siciliano, chairman of the programme governance committee, has produced great outcomes for the region and has become a model of best practise that is being emulated in other places. Additionally, the initiative most recently took home the Australian Biosecurity Award, Victorian Achievers Award, and Victorian Agriculture Innovation Award.
According to Ross Abberfield, the coordinator of the programme, the award was independently evaluated and recognised the programme for employing a technology and business strategy that went against the grain of the industry as part of the program’s area-wide fruit fly management. According to the judges, the programme significantly advanced best practises and reduced costs across the value chain, Mr. Abberfield said. They think we’ve provided technologies and practises that aren’t often used by industry, giving us a commercial and competitive advantage. We are really pleased of this. Through comprehensive management, the project, which was started in 2017, has considerably improved the region’s defences against fruit flies.
Qld fruit fly populations in the area were drastically decreased by the programme, according to Ausveg CEO Michael Coote. He claimed that a significant portion of this achievement was attributable to funding cutting-edge research and a three-year aerial release trial of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) in the area. “Between 2017 and 2019 fruit fly pressure decreased, registering a 60 per cent reduction across the region (FFAWM) and a decrease of 83 per cent in Cobram (FFAWM and SIT) during 2019-2020 when compared with the preceding two years,” Mr Coote said.
Commercial farmers, industry, community, research, and government organisations have united and taken responsibility of the Queensland fruit fly problem in order to safeguard the region’s horticultural sector and to advance its commercial, social, environmental, and economic prosperity. The Greater Shepparton, Strathbogie, Campaspe, and Berrigan council areas are included in the Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Program, which is supported by the Victorian Government, Cobram and District Fruit Growers Association, Fruit Growers Victoria, Summerfruit Australia, and Lions International. Visy, the sponsor of the award, is recognised as a leader in the packaging business and a vital supplier of services crucial to the food supply chain. With a broad selection of sustainable packaging, Visy offers cutting-edge options for nearly every vegetable on the market.