Future of mango varieties now with Qld Department of Ag
The fate of Australia's newest - and still nameless - mango varieties has taken another twist, with the commercial rollout now in the hands of Queensland agriculture officials.
Work started on the varieties around 25 years ago via the National Mango Breeding Program (NMBP) and made headlines in 2010 when it was suggested one of the varieties be named after Kylie Minogue.
At the time, the mango industry was expecting the varieties would be branded and hitting supermarket shelves by 2012. But it was not to be.
Around six months ago, Brett Kelly became the chief executive of the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) and its 100 per cent subsidiary company Newmanco, which was set up to oversee the commercialisation phase of the new mangoes in partnership with the CSIRO.
Mr Kelly said it was tough to tell why the commercialisation of the hybrid mangoes had stalled so badly.
"Being new to the role, this is one of the things I've inherited to obviously get sorted ... and I think with the initial work done, it was all very good, but the best way forward is for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to take over," he said.
"Yes, it's dragged on for a long time; I'm not sure exactly why ... I think with these three new varieties it could now really be a very good outcome for those growers."
Mr Kelly said questions about the next steps would be best answered by DAF, which declined an interview request.
In a statement, DAF general manager of horticulture Lynne Turner said the next phase would be an "expression of interest seeking tender proposals to manage the propagation, growing and marketing of varieties."
Far north Queensland mango grower Raymond Bin signed up to get hold of the hybrid mangoes in 2010.
"It has taken way too long. I don't think anyone would deny that," he said.
"I personally waited for a very long number of years before I could even access the trees for planting. It's disappointing that's the way it went but we need to move forward now."
The first fruit from his four-year-old trees were sent to market last year in generic boxes, meaning consumers were unaware they were buying and tasting a new variety.
Mr Bin said he was not confident that would change in time for this year's season.
"DAF is not a marketing agency, but DAF has done a lot of the work in breeding the hybrids, so that is a positive - it's in DAF's interest to make the hybrids work," he said.
According to the AMIA, around 20 farmers have access to the varieties and last year produced around 1000 trays of fruit.
Mr Bin said he was looking forward to finally seeing his hybrids with a name and place on supermarket shelves.
Source: ABC Rural