$10 million for sterile insect fruit fly technology

South Australia’s role at the forefront of Australian research into the sterile insect technology for Queensland fruit fly has been strengthened through a new $10 million funding agreement.

The agreement includes nearly $600,000 in State Government funding for the National Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) Facility at Port Augusta as part of a $10 million national funding arrangement to cover staffing and operating costs at the facility through to 31 March 2022.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the arrangement ensured the continuing development of sterile Queensland fruit fly production at the facility.

“South Australia has been leading the way on the use of SIT in eradicating Queensland fruit fly and the facility plays a critical role in the fight against this destructive pest,” said Minister Whetstone.

“SIT technology has been a key part of our eradication responses to fruit fly outbreaks in South Australia including the recent response at Loxton.

“The final release of sterile flies until next spring is occurring this week, as part of the eradication operation at Lindsay Point in Victoria.”

SIT involves the strategic release of millions of sterile flies to greatly outnumber the wild population, resulting in limiting the opportunity for wild flies to mate, ultimately leading to a collapse in subsequent generations of wild flies.

“Sterile flies can also be used to create buffer zones around pest free areas, and to suppress populations in other states where fruit fly is established,” said Minister Whetstone.

“The Marshall Liberal Government will use every tool at our disposal to protect our vital $1.2 billion horticulture industry, however the National SIT Facility is also a game changer for Australian horticulture as a whole.

“SIT enables farmers to reduce their pesticide use and expand their production of high-quality Q-fly free produce, enabling better trading opportunities.”

Minister Whetstone said recent outbreaks across South Australia showed we must remain vigilant as a state in our defence against fruit fly.

“We are well aware of the devastation fruit fly can cause interstate and that is why it’s important that we continue to remind people to buy local and not bring fruit and vegetables into South Australia,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Keeping South Australia free of fruit fly is everyone’s responsibility and that it is why the Marshall Liberal Government has introduced zero tolerance at the Yamba Quarantine Station and random roadblocks to change the culture of motorists carrying host material into the state.”

The SIT facility at Port Augusta can produce 50 million sterile Queensland fruit flies each week at full operation. The facility is supported by SITPlus, a national $45 million research and development partnership.

The national funding agreement is between the South Australian Government, Hort Innovation and the University of Western Sydney.

For more information on keeping South Australia fruit fly free visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/fruit_fly

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