A biosecurity plan for the sweetpotato industry

December 13, 2019

Australia’s sweetpotato industry is now be better prepared for the risk of new pests and diseases from overseas following the release of a biosecurity plan for the industry.

The plan identifies the high priority exotic pests and diseases of sweetpotato, and actions industry and government can take to protect against them.

This is the first time the sweetpotato industry has participated in the rigorous biosecurity planning process. Plant Health Australia worked with Australian Sweetpotato Growers Inc., government representatives from state departments of primary industries and agriculture, and university-based researchers to develop the plan. Together, these groups identified and prioritised the plant health risks to the sweetpotato industry. They also assessed the industry’s current biosecurity practices and future biosecurity needs.

More than 170 exotic plant pests and the threat each represents to the industry were based on their potential to enter, establish and spread in Australia. Their potential economic impact was also considered.

A much smaller list of high priority plant pest and disease threats were determined from the assessment. Two high priority pests identified by the plan, west Indian sweetpotato weevil and giant African land snail, could pose a high risk to the industry if found in Australia.

Both pests can be spread by infested plant material, and through contaminated soil, tools and machinery. As such, on-farm biosecurity practices, like washing down vehicles and equipment entering your property, will help protect your crop.

This project was funded by Hort Innovation using the sweetpotato research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.

If you would like more information about the sweetpotato biosecurity plan or biosecurity in general, visit www.planthealthaustralia.com.au, email admin@phau.com.au or phone 02 6215 7700.

You can also find out more about implementing biosecurity measures on your property at farmbiosecurity.com.au.

If you see anything unusual report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Did you know 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health? Find out more at planthealthyear.org.au