AFTER an anxious wait, the Victorian Government has come good with funding for the extension of the Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Project.
Earlier this month the Victorian Government confirmed a 12 month extension period of the project which is considered a vital link in helping prevent and control outbreaks of Queensland Fruit Fly (Q-Fly) in the state.
The funding announcement and extension of the project allows for the continuation of a suite of control and management measures across five council areas (Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira, Strathbogie and Berrigan) to reduce the spread of Q-Fly.
Victorian agriculture minister, Jaclyn Symes, announced the $1.72 million in grants in a one-year extension of the Managing Fruit Fly in Victoria Action Plan 2015-20, allowing regional groups to continue the successful implementation of their area wide management programs.
Ms Symes said biosecurity was everyone's responsibility.
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"It's been fantastic to see the work of groups in Sunraysia, the Goulburn Murray Valley and the Yarra Valley step up to manage Queensland fruit fly," she said.
"We know everyone working together is the most effective way to reduce the impact of Queensland fruit fly on our local produce, home gardens and Victoria's horticulture industry."
Goulburn Murray Valley (GMV) Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Governance Group chair, Tony Siciliano, said the funding demonstrated the Victorian Government's commitment to protecting Victoria's horticultural future.
"This funding is vital to the region's horticultural industry and has been welcomed by fruit and vegetable growers across the region," Mr Siciliano said.
"The GMV is the largest pear producer in the southern hemisphere, the Murray Valley is the nation's largest stonefruit producer and the GMV produces nearly half of the nation's apples, given this positioning pest control is a key aspect to the success of our industry."
There were concerns as of May this year that the government had not committed to a continuation of the project, without which some warned Q-fly numbers could increase by between 60-70 per cent in the GMV.
The Victorian Government is working in tandem with growers who spend nearly $4 million annually to manage on farm pests and a further $1 million on levies to advance research and development, along with marketing activities.
We welcome the announcement and an additional 12 months of funding but we strongly urge the current Victorian Government to consider committing to a much longer funding term as this issue needs a long term approach and 12 months simply keeps it on life support.
"Without this funding the coordinated control of fruit fly would cease and we would return to the situation we faced before the Victorian Government took the initiative and introduced a five year strategic plan to manage fruit fly," Mr Siciliano said.
"Without it, you would see a 60 per cent increase in fruit fly numbers that would impact production, exports, domestic sales and jobs, without a doubt," he said.
The project's Governance Group is made up of leaders from the community, industry and government, with the group passionate about protecting against Q-Fly through the implementation of the project's Action Plan.
Toolamba orchardist, Peter Hall, welcomed the funding announcement but stressed the importance of a long-term commitment to controlling the spread of fruit fly.
"This has been a very successful partnership between community, local and state government and it is important that funding for activities that can only be carried out by government are secured and put in place for a much longer time period in order to protect the long term future of our horticulture industry," Mr Hall said.
"I would like to thank minister Symes for the decision to extend the project but it is essential that we put in place a framework that ensures this vital program continues beyond the next 12 months and well into the future."
According to Mr Hall, a more sustainable funding platform is required to ensure certainty and confidence while allowing the fantastic work undertaken by local communities to continue.
"We welcome the announcement and an additional 12 months of funding but we strongly urge the current Victorian Government to consider committing to a much longer funding term as this issue needs a long term approach and 12 months simply keeps it on life support," Mr Hall said.
This funding will support the resourcing of over 2400 Lions Clubs volunteers across the GMV region to help manage and control fruit fly.
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