SA will be home to the world’s first research centre dedicated to combating Queensland fruit fly

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Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell has announced that the State Government of South Australia has signed an agreement with Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIA) to build and manage the $3.8 million National Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility at Port Augusta.

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HIA is a not-for-profit, grower-owned Research and Development Corporation (RDC) for Australia’s $9 billion horticulture industry.

According to the Minister’s media release, HIA is contributing $800,000 on top of the $3 million State Government commitment for the development of the research centre.

The world-leading fruit fly research centre will produce 50 million sterile male fruit flies each week, which will be released to mate with wild females, thereby collapsing the population of the fruit flies.

CSIRO, Plant & Food Research Australia, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, and Macquarie University are also partners in the development of the facility.

The SIT facility is supported by SITplus, a national research and development effort, which now has a combined program budget of nearly $50 million.

HIA Chief Executive John Lloyd said the organisation was in the process of appointing a program director who will be responsible for ensuring SITplus delivers high quality research and appropriate outputs and outcomes.

“We anticipate that once fully operational this new National facility will be employing up to 10 fulltime equivalent positions,” Mr Lloyd said.

Work on the research centre will begin this September. The facility is scheduled to be completed in June 2016.