Following a recent announcement by Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes MP of the commitment of $441,000 to help fight QFF in the region, the Regional Coordinator of the Queensland fruit fly management program, Deidre Jaensch, said she is “really pleased that this funding will allow continued assistance to be provided to Victorian residents in the region. There has been a great momentum built over the last 18 months but we still have a long way to go.”
Due to a change in government funding arrangements Mildura Rural City Council took on the role of auspicing the program in early December to ensure the continued work of the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area organisation.
“Fruit fly is very much a community problem, requiring a whole-of-community approach,” Mildura Mayor Simon Clemence said.
“As municipal leaders, Council certainly has an important role to play, and this new arrangement will ensure support continues to be provided to industry and the general community, particularly during the critical fruit-growing summer months.”
Services provided to the community under the QFF program will extend to neighbouring municipalities including Swan Hill and Gannawarra Shire Councils and include: Free* QFF host tree removal from home gardens; Hot spot investigations; Advice to land owners on how to manage fruit fly; Information sessions for the general community and growers; Seasonal reminders and regional trends.
Ms Jaensch said reports from the community have been both good and bad with some people saying it’s the first time in years that they’ve been able to pick clean fruit. On the flip side there have been daily reports of infested fruit from across the region.
Warm, humid and sheltered conditions provided by irrigated gardens are ideal for QFF to rapidly multiply and spread.
“This season is panning out to be similar to what we saw last year, when the fly numbers started off very low in Spring and then skyrocketed in December with the summer storms,” Ms Jaensch said.
“We need to remove any stigma associated with QFF and encourage our friends, family and neighbours to seek the information they need and to take action.”
Field officers have been busy over the last 12 months trying to increase community awareness by knocking on doors at over 7,600 properties. Ms Jaensch said “We have also provided one-on-one advice to more than 950 people at local markets, grower forums, and community events.”
“People are gradually developing the knowledge and skills they need to prevent fruit fly attack and it is encouraging to hear their success stories,” Ms Jaensch said.
“Clean fruit comes at a cost and many people underestimate the time and money that goes into controlling QFF effectively.”
In the last 18 months close to 5,000 trees were volunteered for removal under the free tree removal program by home gardeners who decided it was too much effort.
“We have a target of 6,000 host trees to be removed by 30th June 2019. Tree removal provides a huge relief for home gardeners in that they no longer have to worry about having to bag the infested fruit and clean up the mess,” Ms Jaensch said.
If you live within Victoria between Kerang and Yelta, in an urban home or residential property in a rural area (non-commercial), and you no longer wish to manage for fruit fly please ring to take advantage of the free* tree removal program (03) 5022 0327. *Conditions apply.