Tasmania Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff
Bumblebee Trial Could Boost Agricultural Growth
Victor P Taffa
Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff said that the Hodgman Government wants to see more investment and growth in the agriculture sector which is why a trial of using bumblebees in glasshouses to improve pollination is supported.
“This view was expressed to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications which held hearings in Hobart today.” Mr. Rockliff said.
Feral bumblebees have been established in Tasmania for 25 years and with no feasible opportunity for eradication it is believed they could offer an advantage in pollination because of their size, social behaviours and tolerance to difficult climatic conditions.
“They are used in many other countries for pollination and the Tasmanian Government supports a cautiously and carefully run trial with a Tasmanian commercial tomato farmer.”
This isn’t currently permitted under Commonwealth law and the trial would assess the benefits without posing any threat to the environment or other existing industries.
The trial would be done in two parts the first to test whether a population of wild caught bumblebees can be contained and pollinate tomatoes effectively, and the second stage would focus on breeding, but only if the first stage was successful.
A Tasmanian commercial tomato producer has committed to the project and if the trials are successful it could lead to more investment and growth in the controlled environmental agriculture sector, such as greenhouse tomatoes and other fruit.
“Tasmanian Government supports a sensible use of the existing feral bumblebee population and utilising the potential horticultural benefits.” Mr. Rockliff said.