Four new biosecurity plans help to secure the future of Australian horticulture

May 3, 2016

The future looks brighter for Australian horticulture due to the finalisation of biosecurity plans for the pineapple, find tomato, capsule blueberry and tree nut industries, Plant Health Australia (PHA) announced this week.

With the development of these plans, all of the 36 industry members of PHA have now been through this process, a significant achievement that safeguards future production.

Each plan was developed by PHA and a panel of experts from industry and government and, following industry acceptance, has now been endorsed by Plant Health Committee.

PHA’s Program Manager Horticulture Cropping, Alison Saunders, explains that the biosecurity plans are a key step in protecting the ongoing viability of the industries.

“By identifying the exotic pests that pose the greatest risk to each industry, the plans allow preparedness and prevention measures to be agreed and implemented,” Ms Saunders said.

“These protective measures are also set out in each plan, which is important because it makes sure that all the players in the biosecurity system are working together to guard against those particular pests.”

Plans include activities for governments and industries to take, as well as growers. They also provide priorities for plant biosecurity RD&E, so that researchers and their funders know where they should be focusing their efforts.

Ms Saunders maintains that biosecurity measures guided by pre-emptive planning is a very successful basis for keeping Australia free of many of the worst pests that cause problems for food and fibre producers overseas.

“Australian producers are, for the most part, in a good situation because they don’t have to deal with these nasty plant pests, and it’s worth the effort to keep it that way,” she said.

And the role that growers play in implementing the plans? “Whether it’s established or exotic pests, or weeds, producers always have responsibility for protecting their property. Make sure you’re reducing the chances of bringing anything new in, by using farm biosecurity measures like restricting entry to production areas and cleaning down vehicles and equipment. All farmers can make a difference by using these measures.”

The latest plans were all funded by Hort Innovation, in a bid to have all Australian plant production industries covered by biosecurity plans. Copies are available from the relevant peak industry bodies.