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Tasmanian fruit growers responding to fruit fly biosecurity controls

Tasmanian fruit has been shipped to Melbourne to be fumigated and returned, as farm businesses grapple with strict fruit fly biosecurity control measures.

For tomato grower Marcus Brandsema, the biosecurity controls mean some elaborate logistics solutions have been required.  "We've been sending produce to Melbourne markets where it is being fumigated, and then being brought back into Tasmania so Woolworths can sell it on the shelf," Mr Brandsema said.  

To keep the rest of the State fruit-fly free, biosecurity controls prevent fruit grown within 15km of the detection site at Spreyton in north-west Tasmania being transported out of that area, unless it is fumigated with methyl bromide, or kept in cool storage for 16 days.

J & A Brandsema Pty Ltd sells 90 per cent of its produce within Tasmania, so the business is one of those most affected by the control measures.  Long, warm summer days mean the glasshouses are at peak production with nowhere to send the fruit.

A fumigation facility has arrived in Devonport, which will allow Mr Brandsema to treat his fruit locally and sell it to Tasmanian supermarkets.  "That means we will be dumping a lot less than we initially were as we will be able to secure product for sale," he said.

These growers are optimistic they will be eligible for a share of the $2 million State Government assistance package for businesses affected by the fruit fly outbreak.


(From ABC Rural News - 9 February 2018)