The social and institutional aspects of industry-driven fruit fly area-wide management in Australian horticulture industries

  • Heleen Kruger

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) (QFly) is one of Australia’s most problematic horticultural pests. Key pesticides traditionally used to manage the pest, fenthion and dimethoate, have recently been restricted, resulting in area-wide management (AWM) of QFly becoming a key recommended practice. AWM involves management of the entire pest population by coordinating management strategies across all key pest sources throughout a geographical region. If successful, AWM requires fewer pesticides than traditional farm-by-farm approaches as it reduces the overall pest pressure in a region. It can potentially contribute to supporting market access to QFly-sensitive markets. Success depends on achieving and maintaining cooperation between a critical mass of landholders with QFly hosts on their land as unmanaged hosts provide breeding places for QFly. The increased push for AWM coincides with state governments tending to reduce direct on-ground support for pest management. It is increasingly up to local industries to take the reins of implementing AWM programs.

    A considerable literature about AWM is available, but it focuses mainly on technical and economic aspects. This research investigated the social and institutional aspects of industry-driven AWM programs based on two research questions: (1) What social and institutional factors influence the success of industry-driven AWM at the local level and how can success be maximised?; and (2) What are the main constraints to an enabling environment for industry-driven AWM implementation and how can these be mitigated?

    Three case studies, together with literature about socio-ecological systems, were explored to answer question 1. This involved 43 semi-structured interviews, three focus groups and a grower survey involving 98 respondents across the cases. Question 2 was answered based on 33 semi structured interviews with people operating in the broader QFly management innovation system, representing the technological, institutional, organisational and operational aspects of the QFly domain. These findings together with the grower survey results were analysed through the lens of Agricultural Innovation Systems thinking.

    The research found that the feasibility of industry-driven AWM depends on factors at the local level and within the broader QFly management innovation system. Locally, a social profile favourable to AWM includes a relatively homogenous grower community; high levels of social capital; existing opportunities to monitor compliance; and a high ratio between those who have an incentive to manage QFly and those who do not. As every region is unique, AWM is best approached through adaptive co-management to bolster local QFly knowledge and support a common narrative and adaptive capacity. This involves ‘learning by doing’ and drawing on different knowledge systems including QFly biology and behaviour; market access; community engagement; and different forms of local knowledge. Market access requirements are best seen as ‘bolt-on’ components.

    To carry out adaptive co-management, local industries need to be able to readily access the needed knowledge, capabilities and resources. The broader QFly management innovation system needs to be responsive to meeting these needs. Training for key local stakeholders can assist in overcoming limited local capacities. This work found that in the multi-level biosecurity world, the local level can easily become disconnected. Knowledge brokers and interconnected innovation platforms can ensure strong two-way information flow between local programs and other players, such as policy-makers, researchers and market access personnel. Other key difficulties to local industries include the reliance on voluntary approaches for securing wide-spread support and establishing a sustainable income. Complementary policy mechanisms tailored to local conditions to back-up industry-driven approaches are recommended. This research makes an important contribution to successful future QFly management by complementing prevailing high investment in improving QFly management technologies.
    Date of AwardFeb 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRolf Gerritsen (Supervisor)

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