Industry planning protects potatoes from exotic pests

January 31, 2014

More than 70 exotic pests that pose a threat to the Australian potato industry were identified in a new version of the Industry Biosecurity Plan (IBP) for the Potato Industry, released by Plant Health Australia (PHA), the coordinators of the biosecurity partnership in Australia.

The planning process brought to gether experts from around Australia to prioritise exotic biosecurity threats to potato production and to identify strategies and resources to help manage these potential risks.

Executive Director and CEO of PHA, Greg Fraser, said that there were eight pests that would pose a high or extreme risk to the industry, should they become established here.

“Pests that top the list include exotic strains of Potato cyst nematode and Potato virus Y, along with Zebra chip and the Tomato-potato psyllid,” he said.
 
“Having identified these threats, the plan describes government and industry preparedness activities that allow for the rapid detection of, and response to, an exotic pest incursion,” said Mr Fraser.

AUSVEG spokesperson Luke Raggatt, said that the IBP is a valuable biosecurity initiative that AUSVEG see as an essential industry resource.
 
“The industry biosecurity plan outlines a number of key risk mitigation areas and summarises the roles and responsibilities of the Australian Government, state and territory governments and potato industry members,” he said.

“Pinning down the steps that each player will take to minimise biosecurity risks provides a good deal of protection for our growers,” said Mr Raggatt.
    
Mr Raggatt added that biosecurity planning also assists when negotiating access to new overseas markets, because it reassures potential international trading partners that the Australian potato industry has systems in place to control and manage biosecurity risks.

The IBP was developed in consultation with a group of plant health and biosecurity experts which included representatives from AUSVEG, relevant state and territory agriculture agencies and research organisations.

The new version of the plan updates the original potato IBP which was completed in 2007.  Version two has been endorsed by industry and all Australian governments.

Potato production occurs around Australia with the exception of some far northern areas. All states grow significant quantities of potatoes, particularly South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.