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Lychees make the leap

After years of quarantive negotiations, fresh lychees from Australia have been exported to NZ for the first time.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, welcomed the new market access, saying the first consignment of lychees was recently sent from Brisbane to NZ.

Farmers hope to export 200 tonnes of lychees to NZ annually by 2013.

Lychees are grown in far north and central Queensland and the north coast of NSW.

“The lychee industry already contributes to Australia’s horticulutre industries and regional communities, producing 4,500 tonnes of the tropical fruit, worth $16 million each year,” Burke said.

“Australia’s lychee exports have risen sharply in recent years, with about 20% of lychee production now exported, earning around $3.2 million per year.”

Lychee exports to NZ were permitted after a new import policy was finalised which will require fresh Australian lychees to undergo a range of quarantine measures, including pre-export irradiation.

Further, all lychee fruit for export to NZ must be sourced from orchards that produce commercial lychee under standard cultivation, pest-control, harvesting and pack house procedures.

Recent success in lychee exports follows improvements in post-harvest handling and the development of quality assurance programs and cooperative marketing groups.

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Biosecurity Australia and industry have worked together over several years to meet NZ’s quarantine requirements for lychee imports.

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