Qfly menace calls nation to action | OPINION

Qfly menace calls nation to action | OPINION


Opinion
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The rise in fruit fly outbreaks should make us want to take up arms against (or at least, be on the look out) for this little nasty.

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EDITORIAL

HOLLYWOOD loves a "big creature" movie to make cinema patrons spill their popcorn in fright.

Jaws, King Kong, Rogue, Lake Placid, Razorback - they're all based on a pumped-up animal going AWOL.

Australia has its own animal menace. It's not likely to make the silver screen but its impacts are real and being felt right now.

Qld fruit fly is a small bug but a big problem. It needs to be everyone's problem because it's a cause for national concern. Or should be.

In February this year, NSW Farmers called for a national approach to fruit fly.

The thing is, we already have one.

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The National Fruit Fly Council, a joint initiative between Plant Health Australia (PHA) and Hort Innovation, was set up in 2015, taking over from the National Fruit Fly Strategy Advisory Committee which was established the year before.

Maybe the Council needs to lift its profile so it's more well-known throughout the wider agriculture sector.

The more states, agriculture bodies and farmers on board, the more eyes and ears on the ground there will be to help bring this little nasty under control.

Tasmania and SA have made big strides into export markets with their produce being "fruit fly free" as a key selling point. That's all in jeopardy if more attention isn't given to Qfly.

The silver bullet chemicals of old are no longer available.

The public needs to be involved as they are with the distribution of fruit fly traps and baits in key areas.

The best bet would be to think of it as a national integrated pest management strategy where lots of cogs make the bigger machine move forward.

Irradiation could be a part of this overall strategy but that's going to need a brave conversation with supermarkets and consumer groups who have concerns over the connotations within the name.

The release of 2 million sterile fruit flies over South Australia from the National Sterile Insect Technology facility in Port Augusta is a good start, but that's what it is – a start, not a fix.

Projected figures suggest it could pump out up to 50 million flies a week to target outbreaks.

Many councils throughout Australia have realised that control measures need to go beyond just the farms and research facilities.

The public needs to be involved as they are with the distribution of fruit fly traps and baits in key areas.

Imagine if this approach went national where households across the country were able to make their own contributions to reducing numbers.

Maybe they could pick up a free trap from a dispenser within a supermarket fresh produce section, to help connect the fact that controlling the bug will improve fruit production.

Aussies are a "can do" lot that love an underdog story. There's the potential for a great story here of how a nation put a halt to a raging menace.

It's the stuff of blockbuster movies, that's for sure.

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