Australia and China sign nectarine export protocols
It's been 13 years in the making, but now Australian growers will be able to ship their nectarines directly to the Chinese mainland, while Chinese growers will also have the same access for the Australian market.
The announcement is quite the turnaround, given the team at Summerfruit Australia (SAL) thought the feat would be unachievable for a few more years after a meeting with a government biosecurity staff to discuss the matter in April, 2015.
In the wake of that meeting, the industry formed the voluntarily-funded Summer Fruit Export Alliance (SEDA) which represents 80% of fresh market stonefruit production and 90% of the exported volume.
Part of this shorter time frame has been because of the increased resources the coalition government has provided the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to progress market access.
"This extra funding along with the commitment of department staff to engage with us in frank discussion about what we had to do on our side to achieve market access is why we have access for nectarine exports to China," said SEDA chairman Ian McAlister.
SAL chairman and Stanthorpe, Queensland-based grower Andrew Findlay, said the protocol was the result of much hard work by a number of people, particularly SAL CEO John More and Ian McAlister.
"By engaging with the Chinese market and industry investment of considerable grower research and development levies into projects to develop disinfestation treatments that would make sure the protocol would ensure commercial trade," Findlay said.
"The investment in disinfestation treatments has led to our protocol as the first the Chinese have agreed to a 3.0°C treatment for Queensland Fruit Fly and Lesser Queensland Fruit Fly of any Australian horticultural product," added Moore.
"This is critical for sea freight shipments as they can be rejected when temperatures can spike above 2.1°C when the sea container defrosts when the ship is near the warmer climate around the equator."
Moore explained the new protocol was the first by China to recognize a Fruit Fly Pest Free Area (FF-PFA) on mainland Australia.
The Riverland region of South Australia has been approved as a PFA from all fruit flies, which will allow airfreight without fumigation and temperature controls to China.
As a result, the region will be able to access many more Chinese destinations.
“The eastern states including South Australia have been declared to be free of Mediterranean Fruit Fly (MFF),” said McAlister.
Mr McAlister explained this was critical to the sea freight protocol enabling commercial trade as the research is not yet proven to kill MFF at 3.0°C. The lower temperature and longer time for disinfestation of MFF makes it far too risky for growers to export to China by sea.
"The success of citrus and table grape exports to China has driven vastly improved and now profitable prices to growers compared to a few years ago when growers were losing money.
"Nectarine growers who have received extremely low prices the last two seasons are likely to see vastly improved prices in the coming season."
Moore will be coordinating registration and training of growers, packers and exporters to ensure that compliance is ensured.
He outlined that orchards, packing sheds and export facilities including cold treatment and fumigation facilities will be audited and approved by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for nectarines to be exported to China.
As part of the compliance growers will have to monitor their orchards for 12 quarantine pests listed in the protocol by a person approved by the department.