Growers criticise medfly plan

Call to educate public instead
Call to educate public instead

Hills Orchard Improvement Group (HOIG) spokesman Brett DelSimone said growers believed the Hills medfly initiative (HMI) was supposed to communicate with the public, the co-operation of which was vital for controls to succeed across the region.

But he said HMI had made no progress since releasing one document.

Mr DelSimone said HMI had produced a best practice document to help growers through the immediate season, but it would have been a ‘much better use of the time’ to produce something to educate the public.

He criticised the Department of Agriculture and Food WA for appointing agribusiness consultant Peter Cooke as facilitator.

‘For the HMI to move forward constructively requires the removal of Mr Cooke and a replacement facilitator who has the respect of the grower group,’ he said.

Pickering Brook grower Ian Burns resigned from the HMI after the release of the best practice document and told Community he had done all he could by contributing to its production.

Mr Cooke said he was engaged to take the issue forward after the Government confirmed it would not fund an area-wide management program which, despite HOIG’s belief that it was necessary, was ‘far too expensive’ at about $10 million per year.

‘The best control is for it to start on (commercial) properties and spread outwards to include neighbours,’ he said.

HMI distributed the best practice document promptly to HOIG and citrus, apple and grape grower groups and it had been ‘highly regarded’.

He said it had always been clear HMI’s first action would be to provide this document and there had never been any more action agreed on to take place this season.

Mr Cooke said that within a |couple of months, an Australian Produce Commission stonefruit subcommittee would replace the HMI.

He said as DAFWA had confirmed growers would have to lead the way on fighting the pest, the committee would comprise elected growers only ” three from the Hills, three from the southwest and one from north of Perth ” so he would not be on it anyway.

n The HMI was formed in November and was the State Government and growers’ most recent effort to bring the mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) infestation problem in the Swan, Mundaring, Kalamunda, Gosnells, Armadale and Serpentine Jarrahdale areas under control.

n The expert committee consisted of two DAFWA staff members, four Hills fruit growers and Mr Cooke.