The Goulburn Murray Valley’s defence against Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) will be bolstered thanks to a recently announced $709,920 Victorian Government grant to continue the delivery of a Regional Fruit Fly Action Plan to fight the pest.
Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Coordinator Ross Abberfield welcomed the funding announcement, describing it as a critical step forward in ensuring the region had the capacity to advance efforts in the Area Wide Management (AWM) of fruit fly.
The funding is part of the Victorian Government’s Managing Fruit Fly Regional Grants Program.
“The Regional Action Plan brings together government, growers, industry groups, service clubs and the broader community as part of a coordinated management and prevention strategy,” Mr Abberfield said.
First implemented in 2017 to help protect the region’s multi-million dollar horticulture industry, the action plan takes in the local government areas of Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira, Strathbogie and Berrigan.
The grant allows the strategies and activities identified in the action plan to be rolled out in 2018-19, building on the success achieved through AWM which commenced in June 2017. “We were delighted to hear the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford’s announcement of the grant this week, which allows for the extension of a range of activities and programs across the Goulburn Murray Valley region,” Mr Abberfield said.
“Through this grant we will continue to work closely with the community, growers and other stakeholders to make sure they have the information and support required to instil the ‘sense of ‘ownership’ necessary to win the battle against fruit fly across the Goulburn Murray Valley community,” Mr Abberfield said.
The coordinated approach to managing the spread of QFF will continue to target hotspots and increase monitoring to identify fruit fly high pressure areas.
The grant will see Regional Field Officers remain in place as a key resource in the immediate management of fruit fly hot spots as they occur. Programs such as the voluntary Urban Fruit Tree Removal Program and Rogue Fruit Tree Eradication from public lands, will remain an instrumental element in the targeted response to reducing the spread of fruit fly and their breeding sites.
“This multi-faceted approach relies on a range of activities, programs and strategies applied across the whole region to build on the great work achieved to date to effectively manage QFF,” Mr Abberfield said.
Significant achievements to date include: ● The removal of 1,822 unwanted fruit trees from urban yards as part of the Urban Fruit Tree Removal Program which significantly reduced potential breeding grounds for fruit fly ●The identification of 2,502 QFF host plants or trees on public lands for removal through the Rogue Tree Eradication Program. Further reducing fruit fly habitat. ●The identification of twenty one abandoned orchards, which combined cover some 200 hectares, linked with a grower support and assistance program. ● An extensive education program which saw 3,000 participants take part in education workshops and programs across the region aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness about fruit fly ● A large scale engagement campaign took the No Flies On Us message to the broader community through television, radio, newspaper and social media and supported billboard signage, stickers and flyers circulated within the community.
The fight against fruit fly will be further enhanced through a pilot Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) release which has been supported by the Regional Governance Group and is anticipated to take place in Cobram in the near future with a control site in Mooroopna . The SIT release disrupts breeding activity through the mass release of sterile male fruit flies.
Further inroads will be made when the Goulburn Murray Valley hosts the 2019 Australian Tephritid Research Conference which brings together a range of specialists from across the country committed to better understanding new opportunities, technologies and techniques to eradicate the pest.
A ‘No Flies On Us!’ Expo encompassing a week of workshops and activities across five local government areas is scheduled from 27-31 August 2018 and is another opportunity for the community to better understand how they can do their bit to help reduce the spread of QFF. Further information on the Expo can be found at www.gmv-qldfruitfly.com.au .
“We have been successful in increasing wider community awareness about the risk that the spread of QFF poses to the region’s horticulture industry and our local economy and will continue to highlight these risks with the necessary responses to the community ,” Mr Abberfield said.
“In applying a coordinated approach to how we tackle fruit fly through the implementation of our action plan we are creating benchmarks in Victoria and upholding best practice for QFF management and importantly minimising the risk to the region,” he said.
For more information about QFF prevention and management, pick up an information pack from your local Council’s Customer Service Centre or go to www.gmv-qldfruitfly.com.au