In a huge boost for the State’s Riverland community, the Chinese Government has formally recognised the region as a Pest Free Area for all horticulture commodities from the Riverland.

The announcement comes years after the State Government first held meetings with Chinese officials.

Produce from the Riverland can now be shipped direct to China without a treatment for fruit fly, which will reduce costs and delays for producers and exporters across the supply chain.

Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell has led the charge for South Australia’s producers, meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao and Guangzhou to discuss formal recognition of the Riverland’s Pest Free status.

The case was reinforced again in August this year during a meeting with the Australian Government’s primary industry expert in Beijing – the Minister Counsellor Agriculture (North Asia), from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The Riverland’s formal recognition as a Pest Free Area will provide new expansion opportunities for the region’s horticultural industry, resulting in more jobs for South Australians.


This new market access agreement between the Australian and Chinese governments was reached at the 6th Australia-China Sanitary and Phytosanitary High-Level Dialogue in Sydney on 9 November 2017.

The Chinese recognition follows on from Indonesian recognition of the Riverland as a Pest Free Area in December 2016 and China’s recognition of the Riverland in May last year for the export of nectarines. Other export markets recognising the Riverland Pest Free Area include the United States, Thailand, Japan and New Zealand.

The South Australian citrus industry is the main benefactor of the Riverland’s pest free status, exporting $102 million worth of citrus in 2015-16, up from $71 million in 2014-15. In 2016-17 South Australian citrus exports to China were valued at $9.1 million.

Quotes attributable to Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell

This is outstanding news for the Riverland and will be instrumental in opening up further export opportunities for the region.

This is something we have been working towards for some time and I have met with the Chinese authorities on numerous occasions to discuss extending the protocol applied to nectarines from the Riverland and other summer fruits and stone fruits.

It’s fantastic to see years of diplomatic negotiations come to fruition with all produce from the Riverland now recognised as pest free.

This announcement will further reinforce our reputation in the international arena and I look forward to building an even stronger relationship between South Australia and China.

The State Government spends $5 million a year on maintaining and promoting our fruit fly free status. It is not always easy, but it is certainly worth the effort to gain valuable new market access.

I also want to thank the team at PIRSA Biosecurity SA, who all work tirelessly to maintain the all-important biosecurity measures which underpin Pest Free Area recognition. Thanks must also go to Senator Anne Ruston and the growers in the Riverland.

This is a major win for the people of South Australia and for Chinese consumers who will now have access to fresher premium fruit from our clean environment.

Quotes attributable to Steve Burdette, Citrus Australia – SA Region (CASAR)

The Riverland remains the only fruit fly free area on the Australian mainland thanks to the vision and effort of successive South Australian governments going back more than 30 years.

Our industry has been working hard to capitalise on opportunities provided by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and this development makes our fresh citrus exports even more competitive in this market.

Maintaining our freedom from fruit fly requires strong ongoing government support, public awareness and industry vigilance and all of these stakeholders have demonstrated their commitment to keeping the Riverland fruit fly free because they understand the enormous benefits it bring to the industry and economy.

We’re well and truly ready for the opportunities afforded by this new agreement.