Queensland, Australia

Bowen mango season starts amid export concerns due to COVID-19

The first of Queensland's mangoes are being picked from the trees for the season, but the pandemic still casts a dark shadow over production. The state's growers have complained they are at a disadvantage because their counterparts in the Northern Territory have enjoyed higher export assistance.

Australian Mango Growers Association chair Ben Martin, who farms at Bowen, says the disparity in assistance between the states could mean up to $2 difference per box in the cost of production.

With the number of flights drastically down because of the pandemic, the Federal Government introduced the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) in a bid to keep international freight routes open.

Growers said a lack of access to export markets could lead to a glut on local supermarket shelves. While that might sound like good news for consumers, it could cause a crash in prices and make harvesting the fruit financially unviable for farmers. About 12 per cent of the national crop is exported annually to key markets such as New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Growcom policy and advocacy manager Richard Shannon said exports were vital in keeping the industry profitable: "The more markets we have access to, the [more risk is reduced] to the industry," Shannon said. "The more options growers have for markets, the better — it means we can seek out the best prices possible."

Source: abc.net.au

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