The Rare Fruits Council of Australia was formed in late 1979, and is based in Cairns. Rapid growth of membership to more than 700 has occurred, with members and branches centred in Northern N.S.W., Brisbane, Gympie, Yeppoon, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Mossman, Darwin, Kununurra and Alice Springs. The R.F.C.A. was formed to promote the growing of rare tropical fruits, and its members are searching the world, in particular in S.E. Asia and Central and South America, for promising new fruits. Information is published bi-monthly in a Newsletter. The R.F.C.A. through its members, has a wide range of knowledge, experience and literature about these new exotic tropical fruits, and any interested person who intends to grow them should join the R.F.C.A., come to meetings and meet the members.

a) There is a wide range of new exotic tropical fruits suitable for growing in the region, Ingham to Cooktown. Many of these fruits are commercial in other tropical countries and thus are potentially commercial here.

b) During the last seven years, a large number of improved and selected varieties have been successfully imported to Australia, and are now being propagated.

c) Some fruits are strictly tropical, so much so that even Cairns appears too cold, and others will probably never be commercially productive south of Cardwell.

d) With the fruits that will grow in the south, when competition does arise from there, the fruit here will always mature here earlier, and we will always get the lucrative early markets.

e) Different fruits are available for different soil types including sandy, salty, swampy, alluvial and red soil. Some are cold-requiring, some are cold tolerant or cold sensitive.

f) We have a warm climate with a long growing season which reduces time that trees take to reach bearing age and maturity.

g) Consumers are always looking for something new, different and exotic.

h) There are many ways in which fruit can be used : e.g. fresh, frozen, dried, canned, pulped, juice and processed - drinks, fruit salad, ice-cream, muesli.

i) Market outlets could include motels, restaurants, large retailers as well as wholesale markets.

j) Australia has a large number of small ethnic communities, e.g. Chinese, Malay, Indian, Filippino, Islanders, each with specific food preferences, and in many cases these preferences are not being met by Australian production.

k) There is a ready market for small quantities of a variety of exotic fruits at the moment.

l) We should understand that there is a domestic market as well as a large international and export market.

m) A small farm would probably provide a significant income.

n) Hill slopes not suitable for cane could be used for fruit trees.

o) Most farmers already have enough machinery for fruit-growing.

p) There is already an industrial and transport infrastructure in the district which can cater for fruit growers.

q) The 'slack' season for cane farming will be the busy time for fruit-picking, i.e. December to June, and there should be adequate labour available.

r) In fruit-growing there is virtually no cultivation of the soil and soil erosion is almost nil.

s) Many of the fruits have excellent keeping and transporting qualities.

t) There is in Australia, already, much knowledge and experience about these new fruits.

u) From the viewpoint of exports to the northern hemisphere, e.g. S.E. Asia, we would be producing our fruit in their off-season.

v) This is the only tropical country in the world using the horticultural techniques of western civilization as a standard, and we ought to be able to achieve relatively high production compared with third world countries.

w) Benefits to the district would include:
i) A new labour-intensive industry requiring much part-time, casual and unskilled labour;
ii) Further economic diversity, which we badly need;
iii) A year-round supply of our own fruit, which would lessen dependence on temperate fruits;
iv) A further attraction for tourists;
v) A further inflow of money from the south and overseas into N. Queensland.

x) Australia already imports fresh nuts, citrus, mango and lychee, and tinned longan, lychee, mango, rambutan and jackfruit, proving that there is already a domestic market for these fruit.

y) The infrastructure for fruit export already exists and should continue to improve with mango, macadamia, avocado and lychee.

z) Government recognition of the exotic fruit industry is growing with both the D.P.I. and C.S.I.R.O. planning to increase their research in this field.

aa) The excellent road and rail transport facilities and the development of Cairns and Townsville as International Airports, open up market possibilities that we have never had before.

bb) Many fruits will be produced in relatively small quantities and should hold their price well.

N.B. Further extracts will be published in future Newsletters.

Chairman Of The Rare Fruit Council Of Australia On Exotic Tropical Fruits

DATE: February 1984

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