Fruit fly management in Perth Hills seeks funding

Growers worry fruit fly infestation could worsen.
Growers worry fruit fly infestation could worsen.

FRUIT fly infestation in Hills orchards will worsen under the watered-down control strategy the State Government is spruiking, growers say.

Hills growers believe Area Wide Management (AWM) of fruit fly in the region will cost $10 million annually.

Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) staff confirmed at a public meeting in Lesmurdie that the Government would support a $1-$2 million version of the plan.

It will not give cash, only support such as monitoring, research, sterile fly release and enforcement.

Possible funding from Horticulture Australia and levies paid by Hills growers to representative bodies fall far short of $1 million. The Government’s recent $300 million funding announcement to strengthen WA biosecurity cannot help the Hills, as it is Royalties for Regions funding.

Karragullen grower Danny Di Marco said it appeared the Government was trying to shift responsibility.

He said the ‘watered-down version’ of AWM only included measures growers could set up in their own orchards, and would not help the situation in backyards or public land.

DAFWA senior entomologist Darryl Hardie said the Hills would not get the ‘Rolls Royce’ of AWM, but it was not the Government’s role to run AWM and it would only help the industry ‘chase funding’.

He said he hoped what was offered would be enough and he believed it could be effective in a few years time.

At the meeting, an expert panel was appointed to drive the initiative and seek funding. It so far comprises Dr Hardie, fellow DAFWA senior entomologist Sonya Broughton and four growers, from Roleystone, Carmel and Pickering Brook.

Its first priority is damage control on orchards this summer. Next is getting householders involved.

‘The plan recognises the value and contribution of the Hills fruit industry and the need for all Hills residents, agencies and growers to become part of the solution,’ Dr Hardie said.

Hills residents were invited to the meeting but none attended.

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