The State Government announced that Perth Hills Growers will fund fruit fly management

Hills growers are disappointed with a fruit fly funding announcement.
Hills growers are disappointed with a fruit fly funding announcement.

THE State Government said fruit growers must fund a complex fruit fly control strategy across the Hills, shocking a group that believed help was on its way.

‘You could have bowled me over with a feather,’ Hills Orchard Improvement Group spokesman Brett DelSimone said.

Last week, the group said it believed a $10 million annual funding commitment was coming from the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) to implement the Area Wide Management (AWM) pest control strategy in the Hills.

But a spokeswoman said DAFWA was only working on a proposal for a project costing $1-$2 million a year.

Industry would have to fund this, with DAFWA only promising in-kind technical support.

Mr DelSimone said the project was ‘yet another trial’ while the industry needed meaningful action.

He said growers could help implement AWM, but leading, funding and enforcing the system was beyond its capabilities because it would cost $10 million annually and Hills industry levies raised just $200,000.

The industry had no authority to oversee crucial AWM measures, such as abandoned orchard removal, control and hygiene practices in commercial and home orchards, or sterile insect release programs.

DAFWA has advocated AWM as the answer to the fruit fly infestation the Government declared in the Hills.

Implementation is urgent within 12 months. The only chemical proven to kill the fly in all lifecycle stages will be banned.

DAFWA said the State Government had last week announced $20 million in Royalties for Regions funding for agriculture and food sector biosecurity. Part would go towards a pilot to eradicate fruit fly in Carnarvon, but the Hills was not mentioned.

The Government acknowledged during its announcement that fruit fly cost the WA horticultural industry millions of dollars each year and said being free from many of the world’s worst pests and diseases gave WA a tremendous marketing advantage.

‘We must work to protect this reputation,’ Premier Colin Barnett said.

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