Aerial assault begins on fruit fly in SA

The first sterile fruit flies produced at the new National SIT Facility in Port Augusta have been released today over metropolitan Adelaide to help protect South Australia’s $1.25 billion horticulture industry.

The Port Augusta flies are a vital aspect of current and future fruit fly eradication responses in South Australia.

“Fruit flies are the world’s worst horticultural pest, destroying fruit and vegetables in commercial crops, home gardens and impacting trade access,” said Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone.

“South Australia enjoys the enviable status of being the only mainland state that is fruit fly free and protecting South Australia’s commercial fruit and vegetable industry is vital to growing our exports and creating more jobs in this sector.

“In 2016-17 the estimated farm-gate value of the state’s horticultural produce vulnerable to fruit fly infestation, including wine grapes, was $1.25 billion.

“Being fruit fly free provides significant benefits and gives horticultural producers access to lucrative export markets which helps bring more dollars into our economy and support more local jobs.

“South Australia’s citrus and almond export markets in New Zealand, Germany, and Japan are worth about $87 million a year and would not be accessible without additional treatments if South Australia didn’t have fruit fly free status.

“Having a regular supply of sterile Queensland fruit flies (Q-flies) from Port Augusta will further boost our extensive efforts in maintaining our fruit fly free status.

“Sterile insect technology (SIT) has already been used to great effect during previous outbreak responses in South Australia and the methods being developed at the Port Augusta facility, along with other initiatives that are part of the $45m national SITplus program, are effectively a ‘game changer’ in the fight against fruit fly.

“This work is going above and beyond what has been done anywhere in the world and South Australia is at the centre of it.

“The end game is the eventual commercial production and delivery of sterile male-only Q-flies. At Port Augusta, production is ramping up and once fully operational the National SIT Facility will be able to produce up to 50 million flies per week.

“Therefore today is not only a win for the South Australian horticulture industry but for the sector nationally.”

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