Message from the CEO May 2022

May 17, 2022

This month we’ve seen a flurry of face-to-face interactions with the Myrtle rust field day in Tullebudgera valley, the 2nd Australian Biosecurity Symposium (ABS) on the Gold Coast and the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI) Symposium in Adelaide.

After three years, the much-anticipated 2nd Australian Biosecurity Symposium brought over 400 of Australia’s key agricultural, government, research, and community sectors together to build a stronger biosecurity system. This included the three producers sponsored under the Farm Biosecurity Program.

With five plenary sessions and over 100 concurrent sessions over two days, the event provided a space for biosecurity stakeholders to converge, brainstorm and unite under a common purpose to accelerate reform.

We also launched the ‘Decade of Biosecurity’ an initiative that seeks to engage all Australians and mobilise a 25 million strong mass movement, encourage sustainable investment and build strong partnerships. If you haven’t already, join the movement to help us amplify our message and make noise in cementing 2021-30 the decade of biosecurity.

Last week, the two-day PRBRI symposium attracted pest and disease experts to share new information on the latest research combatting threats. It is the first time since 2019 that the plant health research community had gathered in person to hear about the latest developments in preparedness, diagnostics, surveillance, pest management, capability building, and industry resilience.

The symposium theme was collaboration for greater research impact. A trans-Tasman session highlighted the collaboration between Australia and New Zealand on plant biosecurity research. An industry resilience session included Barry Large (Chairman of Grain Producers Australia) speaking on the importance of biosecurity to the grains industry, in particular the recent khapra beetle scare. Other speakers included PHA staff as well as industry and government representatives. The event reinforced the benefit of working together on research across sectors to support and protect our vibrant plant industries.

Also last week, we celebrated the inaugural International Day of Plant Health, a day set aside to highlight how protecting plant health can end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development.

Later this month, PHA will host our member meetings over two days in Sydney. The hybrid meetings will include the 33rd Plant Industry Forum, 21st General Meeting, Members Forum, 3rd EPPRD debrief forum and the 35th EPPRD Signatories meeting. The National Fruit Fly Council will also be hosting a second webinar series on ‘Coordinated national research of Australia’s fruit flies’.

This month we farewelled Joanne Lee who has taken on a preparedness role at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment where I have no doubt she’ll apply her skills and knowledge to continue to build a resilient plant biosecurity system. At PHA, we are passionate about developing and recognising staff contributions and we congratulate Karin Steenkamp on her new role as  Communications Manager within the Marketing and Communications team.

Next month, Hort Connections is taking place in Brisbane and once again PHA is proud to sponsor Australia’s largest annual horticulture conference which will provide an opportunity for the entire fresh produce industry to network in order to build a resilient food system.

If you haven’t already had a look, our comprehensive events webpage continues to help you plan your network and engagement opportunities for the rest of the year.