Fruit fly program takes out another award

Winners are grinners: Back row: Sam Sorrenti, Chris Stillard, Adrian Conti, Senator Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, GMV Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Governance Group chair Tony Siciliano, Andrew Marin, Councillor for Greater Shepparton City Council Shane Sali. Front row: Dean Trembath, GMVFFAWM Program regional coordinator Ross Abberfield, Marcus Diaco. Photo by Contributed

The Goulburn Murray Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Program (GMFFAWMP) has taken out the Visy Industry Impact Award at the Hort Connections national awards on June 8.

It scored the award for its achievements in reducing the impact of Queensland fruit fly on the Australian horticultural industry, beating out 16 other candidates.

The awards, considered the premier event for the national horticulture industry, were held in Brisbane and attracted more than 3000 people.

Program coordinator Ross Abberfield said the independently assessed award recognised the program for implementing a technology and business practice system outside industry norms.

“They believe that we have delivered technology and practice that is not in common usage by industry, providing a commercial and competitive advantage, which is something we are extremely proud of,” he said.

“The judges determined the program achieved a significant contribution to best practice and cost savings through the value chain.”

The program has a track record in controlling Queensland fruit fly primarily through community effort, including awareness, education and engagement about managing the pest.

GMFFAWMP governance group chairman Tony Siciliano called the award an outstanding achievement.

“(It) has resulted in positive outcomes for the region and has become a model of best practice which is being replicated in other areas,” he said.

The program is supported by the Victorian Government alongside numerous fruit growing organisations, covering Moira, Greater Shepparton, Strathbogie, Campaspe and Berrigan council areas.

Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica congratulated Mr Abberfield and Mr Siciliano on council’s behalf for their dedication to the program.

“This award is an outstanding achievement and recognises the important work that has been achieved in protecting Australia’s $12 billion horticultural industry from the devastating impacts of fruit fly,” he said.

The initiative was established in 2017 and has since won several awards, including an Australian Biosecurity Award in November last year and Victorian Regional Achiever of the Year Award in 2019.

Following the Hort Connections award, the program officials have been invited to do a presentation on Area Wide IPM and Action Programs at the 11th International Symposium on Fruit Flies of Economic Importance, to be held in Sydney from November 13 to18 to an international audience.