Technology

Victoria and South Australia tackle fruit fly head on

Fruit growers have welcomed a cooperative agreement to fund the establishment of a Sterile Insect Technology program to help eradicate fruit flies and safeguard our multi-billion dollar horticulture industry across Victoria and South Australia.

The government will contribute $900,000 towards the Sterile Insect Technology (SITplus) program for the development of a national Queensland Fruit Fly rearing facility at Port Augusta in South Australia.

Sterile insect technology (SIT) is an elementary tool used in the battle against fruit flies. It disrupts the insect’s life cycle by flooding wild pest populations with sterilised insects, reducing the fertility of the field populations to a point where they die out – making full eradication possible.

Victorian growers will be significant winners from the program, as SIT will be deployed across the state for area wide suppression and eradication programs.

SIT has been successful internationally in controlling fruit flies, pink bollworm, screw worm, and codling moth and is formally recognised by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

The funding boost is part of the government’s proactive approach to manage fruit flies, as stated in the launched five year fruit fly action plan, which aims to battle the spread of fruit flies, improve orchard productivity and maintain and develop domestic and international export markets.

The SITplus program was initiated by the South Australia Government and Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIAL) as part of a dynamic program involving industry, community and government all working together to develop and deploy effective fruit fly management techniques across affected regions of Australia.

The flies produced in the SITplus facility will be made commercially available in 2018/19 to all horticulture growing regions around the country to assist with their own management programs.

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