AU: New citrus body meets local growers

The new peak citrus body in South Australia will hold two meetings in the Riverland today to discuss the industry's future. Citrus Australia's state regional advisory committee will meet growers for the first time since replacing the Citrus Industry Development Board and Citrus Growers SA last month. Committee chairman Con Poulos says the industry is facing tough times and growers need to plan their response. "There's definitely challenges with varieties like valencias and navels, the traditional varieties, but there's been some good success stories with a lot of new easy-peel mandarin varieties," he said. "The challenges have always been there, we've just got to try and work around them now."

Mr Poulos says the purpose of the meetings is to develop a new strategic plan. "There's issues we're already tackling with things like biosecurity, with gall wasps and fruit fly's a big issue but we really want input from growers from day one, giving us a bit of direction, what their issues are and what they think we should take up with the national body," he said. Meetings will be held at Renmark at 7:30am (ACDT) and Loxton at 4:30pm, with a meeting also scheduled for Ramco tomorrow. Cooltong citrus grower Jack Papageorgiou says conditions have become so bad he has been driven out of the industry.

He says the committee has a tough task ahead of it, with the survival of the industry at stake. "Every citrus growers is sitting around a table and talking between their partners and having a real hard decision about if they are staying in the industry," he said. "I know a couple of growers a few kilometres around me who have pulled all their citrus out, they've had enough." Mr Papageorgiou says he will attend one of the meetings but he has already made up his mind to quit the industry after 40 years because it's no longer profitable. "Just to look at the trees at the moment, they're healthy, green, producing and I've got to make the hard decision to pull out the very tree I planted and cared for for nearly 30, 40 years," he said.


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