• Message from the Manager image

Welcome to our first edition of 2024. We have been busy following the National Fruit Fly Symposium last year, processing the fantastic input from those who participated, as well as continuing to build on the long-term work of so many who have enabled the horticulture sector to grow and develop particularly into phytosanitary export markets. The National Fruit Fly Council (NFFC) remains focused on ensuring Australia has a robust fruit fly management system that supports this growth in horticultural production, market access and trade.

A key learning from our 2023 ‘Think Tank’ webinar series and Symposium was the engagement model that was used, which was initiated by experts participating in our webinar series and then flowed into the Symposium program. The Symposium comprised a combination of facilitated sessions, presentations, and group table discussions, which enabled us to capture a broad array of feedback across key areas. Using this approach, we’ll continue to examine strategically important issues in-depth with the intent to resolve them collaboratively. The NFFC will be working on some of these in-depth investigations at upcoming meetings, followed by extensive industry and system engagement.

To further enable this approach, we have been working on increasing our capacity to engage more widely and deeply with industry in particular. We are working on an improved industry engagement model that provides industry specific as well as regional and industry wide opportunities to work with the Council on making an impact through delivery of our National Fruit Fly Strategy 2020-25. A part of this will be the current call for Expression of Interest seeking new Council industry members, with the aim of further enhance our industry and grower involvement in Council approaches. Visit our website for more information.

A key initiative of the NFFC over the past two years has been the delivery of engagement and extension activities to strengthen fruit fly management in Australia, which concluded at the 2023 Symposium. Over the life of the project we delivered numerous initiatives including engagement with over 15 key industries and regions on a national fruit fly approach across all parts of the system. We sought to clarify:

  • what is at stake’ using the latest trade data and production statistics by sector and region
  • the systems that underpin trade
  • threats, consequences and priorities
  • roles and responsibilities for growers and industry, the Commonwealth, state regulators, and associated departments and others across the system and through the value chain including researchers.

In mid-2022 we also undertook two hypothetical scenario sessions, themed: ‘Crossing the invisible line’. These two sessions were strongly supported and enabled us to build a better picture of potential disruptions to export and domestic trade and most importantly develop priorities to ensure we navigate this key area successfully into the future.

Additionally, we developed a fruit fly extension framework to improve on-farm management practices by streamlining our efforts. A series of 10 industry specific primers that cover currently available chemicals and controls as well as tools within the ‘fruit fly management toolbox’ that are in the pipeline for use on both on-farm and area-wide, across regions, were also collated. The ‘Think Tank’ webinar series and Symposium program model formed the basis for these, linking with leading experts across a wide range of fruit fly management fields. The primers are available on our website and will be updated as changes occur in future.

A number of priorities have been developed in relation to the fruit fly management toolbox that are future focused and ensure industry have the tools required to continue to produce and export world class produce. We are currently working on funding options that will enable us to deliver these critical and timely activities.

Our workplan for 2024 includes exciting webinars, regional visits, and other opportunities to work on making a contemporary, viable, cost-effective and coordinated approach to fruit fly management. Keep an eye on our website and social media channel for further details that will be released in coming weeks.

Touching base with sector and regional stakeholders is always imperative for the Council. Participating in workshops such the 2023 NSW Local Land Services (LLS) fruit fly workshop all form part of this.

It was exciting to see The Fresh and Secure Trade Alliance (FASTA) launched in August 2023. This $130 million collaborative research program is an excellent example of nationally coordinated efforts to both protect and expand export efforts in Australia. The Council will work closely with Hort Innovation and FASTA partners to ensure our goal of cost-effective, viable and coordinated national approach to fruit fly management, is achieved.

I look forward to 2024 and building those partnerships that will continue to work towards strengthening the fruit fly system.

Stuart Burgess
Manager, National Fruit Fly Council