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19th April 2018

Bundaberg community takes innovative approach to managing fruit fly

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bundaberg community takes innovative approach to managing fruit fly

In a first for Queensland, a community based approach to managing fruit fly will be piloted in the Bundaberg Region.

Agricultural Industry Development Minister Mark Furner said the Palaszczuk Government would be delivering on its election commitment by investing up to $200,000 into the start-up stage of a pilot program headed by Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers.

Minister Furner said the trial’s aim was to reduce the impacts of fruit fly on horticulture productivity in the Bundaberg region.

“While there is ongoing fruit fly research focused on producers, this additional and innovative targeted commitment will specifically focus on educating the urban community about how they can play a part in keeping this endemic pest in check,” Mr Furner said.

"When unchecked, fruit fly infestations have a serious impact on harvestable fruit and vegetable crops and are detrimental to export efforts. Interstate projects have shown that urban communities play a key role in helping monitor fruit fly numbers and providing an early alert to producers.

“This trial isn’t where our partnership with BFVG ends, the Government will also provide up to $200 000 to conduct a pilot trial in regional agriculture data collection in the region.

“BFVG raised this issue during stakeholder meetings highlighting the need for additional agricultural data that wasn’t being captured in existing reports,

“By delivering greater accuracy for the local sector this will allow looking producers to obtain investment and open new opportunities both at the state, national and overseas levels.”

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Managing Director Bree Grima said they were thrilled with today’s announcement.

“Queensland fruit fly is the single biggest barrier to many producers in the Wide Bay Region accessing additional market opportunities and whilst many funded programs have focused on grower engagement this program is innovative in its approach by connecting with the urban environment,” Ms Grima said.

“The community can play a vital role in assisting our producers to manage the impacts of fruit fly and this program will connect the consumers with the producers to help close that loop.”

Minister Furner also confirmed continued funding for the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance, and Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) on a state-wide basis with a further $3 million.

“QAWN is a network of industry-based officers in six key regional centres – one of which is with BFVG – who work directly with producers and supply chain businesses to address recruitment and skilling needs,” he said.

“These officers have been very successful in providing advice to agribusinesses on training, employment recruitment options and facilitating employment opportunities.

“In conjunction with the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance, across the state they have contacted more than 4,000 farm business owners and employees, and more than 5,000 potential new employees. They’ve succeeded in influencing over 1,000 employment and training outcomes.

“The continued funding of the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance and QAWN is critical for the ability of agricultural industries to address their workforce issues.”

ENDS

Media – Tim Auguston 0417 768 626