Water availability, technological innovation in horticulture, and the future of the dried grape industry will be the focus of the 2019 Dried Fruits Australia (DFA) Grower Forum.

The half-day event will be held on Thursday 31 October at Mildura Working Man’s Club.

Open to anyone with an interest in the dried grape industry, the forum will commence at 2pm, following the members-only annual general meeting at 1pm.

It will provide an opportunity for growers to connect, share ideas, and hear from a range of expert guest speakers.

Sunrise Mapping manager Sue Argus will present the results of the dried grape industry data collection project, and SuniTAFE Smart Farm project manager Warren Lloyd will talk about new technology on the farm and its vision for the future.

Lower Murray Water (LMW) managing director Anthony Couroupis and Western Murray Irrigation (WMI) CEO Judith Damiani will provide water updates for the Victorian and NSW sides of the river.

“Agriculture in the region is booming, which creates both opportunities and risks,” Mr Couroupis said.

“The main challenges LMW customers face are associated with the cost and volume of water required to meet the needs of their crops.

“LMW is determined to support irrigators and the integrity of the water markets by ensuring compliance.”

Ms Damiani said water deliveries by WMI in 2018-19 were eight per cent above the five-year average due to it being Australia’s warmest summer on record combined with an increase in new horticultural plantings.

“To support the booming irrigated horticulture sector, WMI is investing in the latest technologies and equipment to develop a new customer service platform with direct access to live usage data,” she said.

“We are also improving reliability and reducing costs of electricity with diesel generators and solar panels, as well as advocating to maintain NSW Murray high security entitlements and addressing deliverability concerns.”

This year’s program also includes a presentation by major sponsor MADEC about their harvest labour services.

Additionally, dried fruit processors Sunbeam Foods, Murray River Organics and Australian Premium Dried Fruits will give their yearly market and operations updates.

To register, please contact DFA on 03 5023 5174 or at admin@driedfruitsaustralia.org.au.