Australian Horticulture Empowered By A$130 Million Program. Indoor Farming; Horticulture; Controlled Environment Agriculture
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Australian Horticulture Empowered By A$130 Million Program

Australia’s horticultural horizon just got brighter with the unprecedented $130 million Fresh and Secure Trade Alliance (FASTA) receiving the nod. This monumental trade initiative, orchestrated by Hort Innovation in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, promises to uplift Australia’s horticultural exports.

Spanning eight years, the FASTA program rallies crucial Australian export stakeholders and governmental officials to augment and fortify the nation’s horticultural exports. An integral aspect of this initiative is the bolstering of biosecurity measures. This move seeks to etch further Australia’s impeccable stature in pest management and as a dependable trading partner on the global dais.

Insects and pests have historically impinged on Australia’s horticultural ventures, affecting both local and international trade. To assure trading partners of the impeccable quality of Australian exports, evidence of the produce being free from insect pests is paramount.

FASTA’s research framework is twofold:

  1. Data to Support Market Access: A combined effort among State and Territory governments will drive the standardization of phytosanitary data collection. This data will be pivotal in certifying Australia’s produce’s pest-free status and ensuring that phytosanitary treatments remain benign to fruit quality. Furthermore, this information will open new export avenues and bolster access to current ones.
  2. Decoding Fruit Flies and Other Pests: A prodigious team of over 70 scientists, spanning disciplines and organizations, will pioneer technology to track, trap, and mitigate pests. The results from this eight-year study will undoubtedly expand Australia’s prowess in pest management research, promoting world-class innovation.

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Murray Watt accentuated that this data-driven initiative will enhance Australia’s defensive mechanism against endemic pests and bolster the country’s readiness against future exotic pest challenges.

Minister Watt asserted, “Our major trading partners value pest management. This project could unlock billions in annual trade for our horticulture sector.”

Hort Innovation CEO, Brett Fifield, reinforced the significance of export growth for the booming $16B horticulture industry. He added, “With the Australian horticulture sector poised to burgeon by almost 22.5% by 2030, primarily through augmented exports, FASTA’s role in fostering this growth, armed with streamlined data collection and fortified biosecurity, is undeniable.”

FASTA is also being hailed by the Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, as a beacon that will illuminate Australia’s reputation for sterling horticultural produce.

Horticulture Export Snapshot:

  • A 2.4% increase in horticulture export value from Dec 2021 to Dec 2022.
  • Fruit ($1.2B), nuts ($1.1B), and vegetables ($262M) were the significant contributors in 2022.
  • Top three exports in 2022: almonds (30% share), table grapes (18%), and citrus (18%).
  • Leading export destinations include China (28.4%), Japan (7.4%), and Vietnam (6.6%).
  • A remarkable 266% surge in exports to Vietnam over the past six years.
  • Victoria dominated with a 49% total export value share.

FASTA blossoms from a robust partnership involving key institutions and entities, including Hort Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Western Sydney University, Australian Blueberry Growers’ Association, James Cook University, GreenSkin Avocados, and many others, backed by the Albanese Government.

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Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash 

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