The Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Program has taken out a top accolade for its achievements in reducing the impact of fruit fly on the Australian horticultural industry.

The program featured at the Hort Connections national awards for excellence in Brisbane on the 8 June 2022, receiving the Visy Industry Impact Award from a field of 16 industry candidates from across Australia.

Program Governance Group Chairman, Tony Siciliano said the award was an outstanding achievement and recognised the important work that has been achieved in protecting Australia’s $12 billion horticultural industry from the devasting impacts of fruit fly.

“The program’s coordinated and highly effective area wide management approach has resulted in positive outcomes for the region and has become a model of best practise which is being replicated in other areas,” Mr Siciliano said.

Program Coordinator, Ross Abberfield said the award independently assessed and recognised the program for implementing a system of technology and business practice outside of the industry norm, as part of the program’s area wide management of fruit fly.

“The judges determined the program achieved a significant contribution to best practice and cost savings through the value chain. They believe that we have delivered technology and practice that is not in common usage by industry, providing a commercial and competitive advantage, which is something we are extremely proud of,” Mr Abberfield said.

Over 3000 people attended the event, which is recognised as the premier event for the Australian horticultural industry, and co-hosted by AUSVEG and the International Fresh Produce Association Australia-New Zealand (IFPA A-NZ).

The thee for Hort Connections 2022 – Growing Together – highlighted the importance for every sector of the horticulture industry coming together to build a stronger more resilient food system to feed local and international consumers.

The Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Program is supported by the Victorian Government along with Cobram and District Fruit Growers Association, Fruit Growers Victoria, Summerfruit Australia, Lions International and includes the council areas of Moira, Greater Shepparton, Strathbogie, Campaspe and Berrigan.

The program has a strong and well-established track record in its ability to make a difference to fruit fly control and horticultural outputs, also recently winning the Victorian Agriculture Innovation Award, Victorian Achievers Award and Australian Biosecurity Award.

“Following the Hort Connections award, our program received an invitation to do a presentation to a national and international audience at the 11th International Symposium on Fruit Flies of Economic Importance in Sydney between 13-18 November 2022, which is an honour and something we are very much looking forward to,” Mr Abberfield said.

Area wide management is central to the program’s success in protecting the region from the impacts of fruit fly. Fruit fly control needs to be carried out by the whole community to be effective and relies on the program’s capacity to increase community awareness, education and engagement about fruit fly management.

Area wide management brings together community, industry and government to apply control and awareness measures across the whole region rather than focusing on isolated pockets.

The project was established in 2017 and has significantly strengthened the region’s protection against fruit fly through area wide management.