Tasmanian fruit and veg industry looks to bright future

October 1, 2014

Positive opportunities for future growth and innovation have been identified in the final report of the Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industry Taskforce that aims to more than double the state's output by 2020.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, today released the Taskforce's final report which was developed by expert industry representatives.

Minister Joyce said the Taskforce identified a potential for market growth supported by the recent expansion of irrigation in Tasmania and increased on-farm research and development implementation.

"The Taskforce has proposed a vision for a more prosperous Tasmanian fruit and vegetable industry. The report outlines opportunities for Tasmania to be an innovative, profitable and sustainable supplier of fruit and vegetables to the world, with annual sales of $750 million by 2020," Minister Joyce said.

Recommendations of the report include establishing a Tasmanian Horticulture Market Growth Project and a market growth facilitator to provide leadership in identifying and exploiting market opportunities for the state's fruit and vegetable industries.

Minister Joyce said the Taskforce was a positive process which brought together a range of industry experts including exporters, growers and processors to identify a way forward for the industry.

"The Taskforce report indicates to me that the future success of the industry is firmly in the hands of industry," Minister Joyce said.

Senator Colbeck commended the Taskforce members for their excellent work in identifying real and achievable opportunities to expand the industry in Tasmania and to provide a better return at the farm gate.

"I'd like to thank the Taskforce members for their dedication and commitment, in particular the Taskforce Chair, Dr Michele Allan," he said.

"The taskforce was a key election commitment for Tasmania and this report will feed into the 'Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Economic Council' and also complement and contribute to the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper."

"The Taskforce has identified key opportunities to market Tasmanian produce to mainland and overseas markets that would put more money in the pockets of Tasmanian growers."

Tasmanian growers produced more than $349 million worth of fruit, nuts and vegetables in 2012-13. This is a major industry for Tasmania, employing 2500 people, and we want to see it continue to grow stronger.

Taskforce Chair Dr Michele Allan said that the report fulfils a key election commitment made to the Tasmanian fruit and vegetable sector by the Australian Government.

"I would like to thank the Taskforce members, Senator Colbeck and Minister Joyce for working together to achieve this outcome. I believe the Taskforce recommendations will change horticulture in Tasmania," Dr Allan said.

Tasmanian farmer Andrew Craigie said it was a privilege to be a member of the Taskforce and to work with other industry members to address a range of issues.

"It is great to have a Minister for Agriculture and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture who are genuinely interested about the future of the industry," he said.

Taskforce member Lucy Gregg, of Reid Fruits, said the appointment of a market growth facilitator would greatly assist in converting potential fruit and vegetable exports to actual sales.

"With the recent decline of the Australian dollar the opportunities for export are the best they have been for many years," she said.

"Whilst we acknowledge there are barriers in relation to exporting produce they are not insurmountable, but potentially the biggest barrier is the cultural and mental barrier to commit to export. We need to empower growers to embrace export opportunities."

The report will now be provided to the Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Council for its information.

A copy of the report is available will be available at this address: http://www.daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/hort-policy/tas-fruit-veg-industry-taskforce

011014 Tasmanian fruit and veg industry looks to bright future
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