South Australia’s Agriculture Minister Gail Gago and PIRSA Chief Executive Scott Ashby travelled to the Region last Friday with a simple message: “Eradication of the insidious fruit fly pest from this region is not negotiable”. The Minister and CE met with industry representatives and the incident response team at Loxton and visited a number of properties in the affected zones. Minister Gago commiserated with those who are most directly impacted and thanked all who are involved in planning and implementing the eradication program. The two outbreaks at Loxton and Pyap were confirmed last Wednesday.
The Manager of Surveillance and Plant Pest Control with Biosecurity SA, Nick Secomb and several of his officers arrived in the region on Thursday morning. They met with growers in the most affected zones to discuss and agree the most appropriate protocols to ensure safe movement of fruit for processing, while mitigating against any further spread of the pest. The team responsible for the eradication program together with, vehicles, trailers and chemicals also arrived on Thursday. By Friday morning eradication teams were being formed, certificates, maps and protocols were being issued to growers and training for the eradication group had begun at the Loxton Research Centre (LRC).
Minister Gago thanked all concerned for the speed of response and the obvious spirit of unity and cooperation that will ensure eradication is swift, comprehensive and emphatic. She praised CEO of Loxton Waikerie Council, Peter Ackland, for his team’s prompt action the previous week in assisting the local community with the destruction of some roadside plants thought to be potentially troublesome. She said “The community of growers and their families, who have responded without hesitation, must be applauded. Despite the challenges of the sweltering heatwave, grassfires, bushfires, smoke haze and the pain of recent indicative grape prices these people have shown typical Riverland grit in the way they have gotten on with the job”.
PIRSA CE Scott Ashby commented, “We know what we must do. We are here to ensure that the SA government provides whatever resources are necessary to achieve prompt eradication and preserve our hard won, invaluable status as a fruit fly free region”. He added “We fully appreciate the trade advantages of being fruit fly free and we must preserve this status at all costs”.
From Riverland Wine’s perspective, it has been gratifying to observe the level of cooperation between growers, wineries, Biosecurity SA agents and transport operators. All concerned have committed to cooperate fully to ensure full compliance on the part of the grape and wine industry in providing appropriate certification and ensuring all grapes being shipped for processing from the two affected zones are tarped for the journey from vineyard to winery.