THE COUNTRY PAGE
THE MAN ON THE LAND.
TRANSPORT OF FRUIT.
FOSTERING INTERSTATE TRADE. Portable Refrigerated Chambers.
One of the greatest difficulties facing the fruitgrowers of the State is the problem of distribution. Gradually the organisation of the market within the State has been perfected until at present it may be considered as good as can be expected. However, the outlet to other States is a form of marketing which is by no means satis- factory to the growers. The markets which exist for good Victorian fruits in other parts of the Commonwealth are of first importance to the grower and merchant alike, but each has been severely handicapped in efforts to develop this outlet in the past. The result is that the amount of fruit in season which is sent to the adjoining States of New South Wales and South Australia is by no means as large as it could be, while Queensland and Western Australia are almost entirely neglected. The difficulty in the past has been the inability of the fruit to stand the long journey between the States. Because of the differing railway gauges, fruit sent from Victoria has been subjected to many different handlings, and most trying conditions of heat, and the greatest essential - the maintenance of an even temperature throughout the journey-has been
Extensive experiments have been made, and trial consignments of various fruits have been sent from Melbourne to the other capital cities and important inland towns, but in almost every case the result has been heavy losses to the consigning merchant or grower. At present it is generally recognised that sending peaches, apricots, pears, tomatoes, and similar fruits by railway to towns in other States is a gamble in which the odds arc generally against the sender. These profitable and important markets, which should normally absorb a considerable quantity of the Victorian fruit production, have therefore received only half-hearted attention, except with such fruits as oranges, which can stand the journey. It is obvious that little progress in developing them can be expected until a more perfect system of carriage is adopted.
Unnecessary Handling Eliminated.
An important step forwards overcoming the difficulties of loss by wastage in transit and harmful retrucking at the change of gauge is likely to be taken if a suggestion put forward by Sir. J. M. Jacobs is adopted. Sir. Jacobs is a director of Geo,
Lister Pty. Ltd., wholesale fruit merchants, and has been identified with the fruit trade for many years. He is already well known to glowers throughout the State, having taken a leading part in the organisation of the citrus-growers. He suggests that a portable refrigerated chamber, which could be lifted from truck to truck without exposing the fruit at each change of gauge or shipment, should be used. The chamber could be constructed so that it
would be possible to reduce its interior temperature by the use of ice, and as there would be no necessity for the fruit to be handled until it reached its destination, it could be maintained at a set temperature throughout the journey. By this means of transport orchardists would be able to ensure a fresher and more perfect delivery of fruit, unnecessary handlings would be eliminated, thus saving the fruit from bruising, delivery would be expedited, and money would be saved in handling charges.
This system of fruit transport has many important aspects to recommend it. It would enable a much wider distribution of Victorian fruit, especially the more delicate varieties, such as strawberries, which are greatly appreciated, and command excellent prices when they can be obtained in good condition in other parts of the Commonwealth. It would also be an important
factor in relieving the home markets at periods of over-supply, which occurred
with such disasterous frequency during the last season. With other outlets, the market, for fruit in Melbourne would be stabilised, with consequent benefit to producer, consumer, and merchant alike. Transport by this means would also lead to a welcome interchange of State commodities during their season, enabling the public to obtain fruits and vegetables earlier, cheaper, and in better condition than at present. It would also make
possible the development of a trade in fresh flowers, for which there is a great demand, and in which there are great opportunities for orchardists, who could adopt it as
a side line.
The question of a portable refrigerated chamber has, already been discussed with responsible officers of the Railways department by Sir. Jacobs, and a design for a Refrigeration crate has been prepared. This container has a capacity of 80 cases of fruit, and is so deigned that it would be capable of being transhipped to any truck on any railway in the Commonwealth. Two would fit in an ordinary Victorian railway truck. The container is constructed with teak framing, with cowhair packing and galvanised iron lining, and is estimated to cost £168 to build.
It is the intention of Sir Jacobs to call a meeting of the secretaries and presidents of orchardists' associations and similar organisations in Melbourne shortly for the purpose of discussing the adoption of the suggested chambers. Many difficulties, such as the question of return freights and the use of the containers in all seasons, will have to be surmounted, but, in view of the many benefits which appear possible by the adoption of this system of transport, it should be possible to overcome the
Wide Country Roads Opposed.
A proposal to reduce the width of many shire roads, which in a large number of instances are three chains wide, is being submitted by councillors of the Wimmera Shire. Supporters of the proposal state that a large area of valuable land is being wasted, and as adjoining landholders have to keep it free of weeds it crcates a further waste in unproductive labour.