A new eight-year trade initiative in Australian horticulture has been given the green light, with a “host of partners” signing onto the programme.
The unveiling of the AUD 130 million (approx. $84.34 million) Fresh and Secure Trade Alliance (FASTA) is described as the “largest and most ambitious trade initiative in Australian horticulture”.
The programme will be delivered through the federal horticulture Research and Development Corporation and Hort Innovation, led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. It will see key Australian export stakeholders and officials joining forces to help protect and grow Australia’s horticultural exports.
Through the programme, FASTA will boost biosecurity initiatives to solidify pest-management – insect pests are a major challenge for the country’s horticultural producers as they impact production and domestic and international trade. Australia’s trading partners require evidence that the country’s horticulture exports are insect pest-free.
FASTA’s research programme will focus on delivering robust datasets to underpin market access negotiations. This will see state and territory governments working together to standardise their approach to collecting phytosanitary data. The data will demonstrate that Australia’s produce is pest-free and will be used to open new export markets for Australian produce, while improving access to existing ones.
The programme will also prioritise increasing understanding about key pests. The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory says that a “multi-discipline, multi-organisational research team of over 70 scientists from across Australia will test new technologies for tracking pests, trapping pests and reducing pest pressure”.
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said: “This initiative will reduce the impact of endemic pests on sustainable horticulture crop production, improve Australia’s preparedness for future exotic pest incursions and facilitate a national, industry-driven and coordinated approach to research activity supporting horticultural market access and improvements.”
In 2022, Australia’s top three export commodities were almonds (30% share), table grapes (18%) and citrus (18%). Fruit accounted for AUD 1.2 billion (approx. $779.44 million) of export value, followed by nuts and vegetables. The country’s top export destination in 2022 was China (28.4%) followed by Japan and Vietnam.
Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner, added: “The Australian horticulture sector is known for delivering high-quality and safe produce. Through the delivery of state-of-the-art research and development, FASTA will bolster the nation’s pest management capacity to safeguard the Australian horticulture industry now, and into the future.”
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