THE Hills Orchard Improvement Group (HOIG) in Western Australia is calling on the State Government to work with it to save the future of the fruit industry from the impact of fruit fly.
Shadow Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Travers said at a press conference last month, that the Labor Party was raising the concerns on behalf of the orchardists.
“With the ban on the chemical Fenthion by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), their main weapon against fruit fly has been removed,” Mr Travers said.
“So what they need now is leadership and financial support from the government to put alternatives in place to manage fruit fly.”
HOIG spokesperson Brett DelSimone said currently there were trials into the management of fruit fly taking place in Jarrahdale.
The trials are in their second year, but the group would like to see those trials extended into the Perth Hills and surrounding areas.
“The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) said it would be too difficult to extend the trials...if that is the case, how are we supposed to cope,” Mr DelSimone said.
Mr Travers also supported the notion of extending the trials.
“What we need is the whole of the Hills’ region and Swan Valley to be covered by area-wide management,” he said.
“WA produces about 80 per cent of stone fruit sold through Perth markets.
“Fortunately this season fruit fly was not an epidemic, however the future is still unknown.
“Because of the weather they were lucky there weren’t any serious outbreaks this season.
“But we need to make sure we have an area-wide management plan by next season.”
Mr DelSimone said the orchard industry was under threat and there weren’t a lot of options for growers.
“Our trouble is our residential community doesn’t have the knowledge or the education on how to control fruit flies,” Mr DelSimone said.
“It’s a complicated year-round process and there needs to be greater education by the government.
“HOIG is doing everything it can to help the surrounding regions, but our funding is very limited, so we need to do everything we can. State Government help would be great.
“We have been accustomed to using this product for a number of years and all of a sudden we are in the middle of finding a miracle process.
“Nothing works as well as the product unfortunately, so we are trying a combination of things, but it’s hard to define one at this point.”
The use of the chemical Fenthion was suspended again last year and the APVMA wants to take the product off the shelf completely, claiming it could be harmful to human health.
“Fenthion is the only product on the market that will actually kill the maggot and the egg which is laid by the fruit fly,” Mr DelSimone said.
“If nothing is done, the Hills’ orchard industry will disappear and the fruit fly will spread to a lot of areas so it is a State-wide problem.”