Australia is on the brink of importing the exotic dragon fruit from Vietnam despite fears it will harm local growers and could threaten biodiversity.
NT Farmers, a trade body, said it was concerned about allowances soon to be granted by the Australian government to import the fruit.
The tropical Northern Territory is Australia’s major growing area for dragon fruit, which is considered a delicacy due to its sweet flavour and rich purple colour.
Vietnam is the largest exporter of the fruit and will be given permission to import it into Australia providing certain safety regulations are met, according to a draft report from the Federal Department of Agriculture.
NT Farmers said: “The Australian dragon fruit industry is not very large and easily supplied by local producers. While we have a small number of suppliers, they are very efficient and effective at getting produce into market at all times of the year.”
The association expressed concern that northern Australia’s growing tropical fruit industry will be impacted by cheaper produce coming in from Vietnam.
It is also concerned that pests might be introduced into Australia along with imports. The country has had numerous problems with invasive species threatening the country’s biodiversity. These include cane toads, rabbits, European wasps and carp, as well as diseases, fungi and parasites.
The Department of Agriculture proposes to permit the importation of fresh dragon fruit to Australia from Vietnam, subject to certain biosecurity conditions.
These include irradiating or vapour-heating the product to eliminate fruit flies and visual inspection to make sure mealybugs are not imported with the produce.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.