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2 March, 2022

Project boosts veg biosecurity prep

The AUSVEG Farm Biosecurity Project, a collaboration between AUSVEG and Plant Health Australia (PHA), continues to improve preparedness and response capability to manage biosecurity risks for the vegetable and potato industries.

AUSVEG Biosecurity coordinator, Callum Fletcher, presenting to a room full of horticultural growers in Gympie last year.

The second phase of the two-year project funded through the National Vegetable and Potato Levies, kicked off in July 2021, after the successful completion of the first phase. 

The project is scheduled to conclude in June 2023.  

The key differentiator in the second phase of the project is the increased focus on the role and importance of urban biosecurity, with emphasis on research, development, and extension (RD&E) programs and farm biosecurity.

Farm biosecurity is integral in protecting production areas from harmful plant pests, diseases, and weeds with on-farm biosecurity practices playing a pivotal role in maintaining Australia’s reputation of producing high quality products. 

Dr Mila Bristow, Plant Health Australia General Manager, Partnerships and Innovation, said farm biosecurity is often perceived as too complex to implement or unnecessary by plant industries. 

“Since future exotic pest incursions are inevitable, it is crucial to strengthen the resilience of biosecurity practises,” Dr Bristow said.

In the first six months, the program has raised awareness of priority pest threats amongst growers and industry, increased the use of on-farm biosecurity practices, provided practical information for the improvement of on-farm biosecurity, and integrated on-farm biosecurity measures. 

“A key success factor of the project is to create a better understanding of the shared responsibility to improve industry biosecurity resilience through increased levels of on-farm preparedness measures that can easily be implemented by growers to gain better protection for their crops and livelihoods,” she said.

The project also aims to increase biosecurity risk preparedness and response mechanisms by working with industry, state and territory governments and the Australian government to strengthen biosecurity awareness and reporting and improve communication of pest issues and threats. 

Australia has seen an increased investment in biosecurity with over $400 million in new funding to support reforms to ensure the biosecurity system is able to respond to the growing global threat of exotic pests and diseases.

In the 2021-22 financial year, vegetables contributed 8.35 per cent of the gross value of production in Cambooya/Wyreema. 

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