As the TPP begins to look like a no-goer, Tasmania has put together a plan which will secure the future of the fruit industry. The Tasmanian Fruit Industry Strategic Plan (TFISP) is a 5 year plan jointly funded by Fruit Growers Tasmania and the Tasmanian State Government, which means it will not only benefit Fruit Growers Tasmania members, but for the whole Tasmanian fruit industry.
"The aim is to look at the whole industry, and where the export markets are heading, particularly the Asian ones and how we can underpin that in the schools with skills, training, jobs and career pathways, which is needed to strengthen the industry. We have interviewed and spoken too a whole lot of people from the industry," explains Phil Pyke, Fruit Growers Tasmania's business development manager. "They included growers, industry support people, researchers and government officials, a wide scope of people."
"The plan is look at how we and the government can support the industry, assisting companies to diversify their production or accessing a grant system, for example, for companies to expand. We have already seen some changes for small and medium sized growers."
Other things such as further research and development may be needed, but all elements will have a linkage back to this strategic plan as well which looks towards 2020.
"Growers are moving into some of the later season berries and diversifying growing practises such as covered crops as we open more markets up, across protocol or non protocol markets. We will continue working with growers to get them ready for these markets," said Phil.
Tasmania can already ship to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand and this is where the current growth is coming from, particularly with apples and cherries and possibly berries.
It is hoped that apples into Japan can be increased. Currently there is a need to apply methyl bromide treatment, but there was no facility on the island. Last year Hanson's Orchards built one, so hopefully more can be shipped to this lucrative market.
"We are hoping that over the next couple of years or so blueberries, along other commodities will gain access to China as a lot of the technical work has already been completed," said Phil.
There is a lot of work being done to secure access for apples and cherries from mainland Australia, so blueberries will be after that, but Phil said it is important to get fruit from the mainland into the larger Asian protocol markets too.