The billion dollar Victorian horticulture industry is set to get a major boost with the announcement of a new X-ray treatment facility to be built at the Melbourne Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market in Epping.
The Victorian Farmers Federation praised the State Government’s investment in the new facility, which is expected to give fruit and vegetable growers a market advantage by reducing transport costs for horticulture exporters by 10 per cent.
“This is a significant investment that shows the Government is committed to ensuring our horticulture industry remains competitive in the global market,” VFF President David Jochinke said.
“The facility will help our Victorian producers meet the growing international demand for their products, while also extending the shelf life of their produce.”
X-ray treatment is a phytosanitary measure that uses innovative new technology for fresh horticultural produce, enabling growers to meet export market access requirements.
The facility, to be built by decontamination processor Steritech, includes a 3,396 square metre warehouse, buildings, and cool rooms.
“When the new plant is up and running, our producers no longer need to transport export-bound produce all the way up to Queensland for treatment, which doesn’t just reduce transport and handling costs, but has the added benefit of lowering product wastage,” Mr Jochinke said.
The new facility was funded by the $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund, created out of a deal brokered by the VFF and the State Government to inject funding into Victoria’s agricultural infrastructure, up-skill the sector and create new market opportunities.
Mr Jochinke said the farmer group would keep working to ensure key priorities for the farm sector were addressed.
“The VFF has always argued for increased funding in agricultural infrastructure projects like this X-ray facility because Victoria is Australia’s largest food and fibre exporter, so we need to remain competitive,” he said.
Victorian was Australia’s largest state food and fibre exporter in 2015-16, accounting for 26 per cent ($11.9 billion) of Australia’s total food and fibre exports.
The State’s horticulture exports grew by $278 million during the period to total $1.1 billion.