In the wake of the introduction of the melon research and development (R&D) levy on January 1, the organisation managing the allocation of funds, Horticulture Innovation Australia, is calling on suitably qualified growers to help prioritise how funds are spent.
Under the new levy, melon producers who sell more than 20 tonnes of the fruit by retail sale each financial year will pay 0.04 cents per kilo toward the levy for R&D investment, and the Australian Government will also contribute funds.
Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said the organisation is setting up a dedicated Strategic Investment Advisory Panel to guide funding decisions.
“Now the melon levy has been established, we are working with industry to form a panel of suitably qualified individuals to help carve out an investment program and identify any short-term, industry-specific research and development priorities,” he said.
Mr Lloyd said early discussions indicated key priorities will be maintaining and strengthening the melon industry’s position in highly competitive local and global markets, and biosecurity.
“The discovery of the debilitating Cucumber Green Mottled Mosaic Virus on farms in Western Australia late last year, and Queensland and the Northern Territory before that, has pushed the need to ensure disease-free seed supply, among other measures, to the fore.”
The skills-based panel will comprise industry supply chain stakeholders, a majority of whom will be levy-paying growers, plus representation from the Australian Melon Association. Geographic and sectoral diversity will be considered in forming the panels.
“We are looking for panellists with a strong mix of skills and experience, who are well positioned to help ensure the melon industry has access to the tools it needs to safeguard the health of this key horticultural sector for generations to come.”
Melons are popular in Australia. Almost 50 per cent of the nation’s households purchased the fruit in the 2014/2015 financial year, buying an average of 1.5 kg per shopping trip. Melon consumption per capita during that period was 8.3kg per person.
In trade terms, the nation’s melon exports climbed from 10,000 tonnes to 16,000 tonnes between 2010 and 2015 with watermelon, rockmelons and honeydew melons being our most popular exports.*
* SOURCE: Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook, produced by Horticulture Innovation Australia.
To register for the melon Strategic Investment Advisory Panel, go to the Horticulture Innovation Australia website.