New facility an important asset in national fruit fly effort

Work has begun on the development of a new research centre in Port Augusta which will become a vital national asset in the national fruit fly effort.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the $3.8 million National Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility will take efforts to manage Queensland fruit fly (Q-fly) to the next level.

"Q-fly has well and truly come out of its corner in recent years, impacting fruit growers in large areas of New South Wales and Victoria from which they had previously been successfully excluded," Senator Ruston said.

"Sterile insect technology is a proven means of suppressing – and eradicating – pest insect populations around the world.

"Research at Port Augusta will focus on developing the best methods to produce sterile male Q-flies, for cost-effective large-scale production (up to 50 million per week), and for release in horticultural areas to eradicate the pest or maintain pest-free areas or areas of low pest prevalence.

"Along with the exotic Mediterranean fruit fly, Q-fly is one of the main barriers for Australian horticulture’s access to export markets, requiring expensive in-crop and post-harvest treatments. We need to reduce this burden on farmers as they move to create and expand new markets overseas, and the Port Augusta SIT facility will play an important role."

Senator Ruston acknowledged the South Australian Government for its $3 million investment in the facility and the contribution of the CSIRO, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Macquarie University, and Plant and Food Research Australia.

"South Australia recognises the importance of keeping the State free of fruit fly," she said. "I also welcome the partnership role of Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) which is investing $800,000 at Port Augusta, part of its multi-million-dollar investment in fruit fly research and development.

"HIA, along with Plant Health Australia and the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, has been a key player in the review of the National Fruit Fly Strategy and will continue its important role as the strategy process transitions to its next phase."

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