The Tasmanian fruit and vegetable industry has welcomed new funding from the Australian Federal Government, saying it will help the state's fruit and vegetable growers explore and expand their export opportunities.
Ian Locke from the Tasmanian Fruit & Vegetable Export Facilitation Group says the new funding, of $320,000 over four years will be spread mainly across five projects that has two main themes.
"One area is helping a grower become more trade aware, and trade ready," he said. "The other, while anyone can send an onion or carrot to another market, but can we actually change the product to a different form, add value to it, and come in where it is more attuned, higher up the market. With this funding we now have a four-year life."
Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said Tasmania’s asparagus and lettuce growers will be able to look at new way in to the Chinese market with nearly $50,000 through the through the Coalition Government’s Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) program.
“This program is enabling us to get market information into the hands of small exporters to help them break into new markets and get a better price for their produce,” Minister Littleproud said. “We are funding up to $118,650 to research the benefits of smart technologies such as freeze drying to help meet export country biosecurity requirements and get a foot in the door to new markets. We are also encouraging research into the demand for pre-packaged products, including how fruit and veg growers can access valued-added technologies.”
Tasmanian Fruit & Vegetable Export Facilitation Group was formed two years ago to fill a gap in the industry for a body that focused on identifying and facilitating exports. It is a member funded organisation, that has a market-based approach that primarily aims to boost production. The group has also been working on projects such as gaining access for Tasmanian seed potatoes to Indonesia, and research for a report on why Tasmania has lost significant market share in onions to Europe.
"We will never be the cheapest producer in the world," Mr Locke said. "But the global demand for good product and good sources, and food security and stability, reliability, climate - that's where we are coming from. It's about productivity, and profitability - giving them more options. We are not going to change the world overnight, but if you can provide options to growers where they can maximise their crop, it makes sense because they get better margins."