Aussie horticulture looks for more 'consistent protocols' -

Aussie horticulture looks for more 'consistent protocols'

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Aussie horticulture looks for more 'consistent protocols'

Delays continue for Australia's cherry market access negotiations with China,with growers looking for a better deal that does not just support pest-free zones.

Cherry Growers Australia CEO Simon Boughey tells Chinese inspectors visited before the Easter break, but Biosecurity Australia is still waiting on a response to its protocol suggestions.

"It has been a long process to get a commercially viable protocol to China; for anywhere that's pest free it is fine, but what we’re really trying to get Biosecurity Australia to put into these protocols is a suite of options for growers across Australia," he says.

"One of them is to have 3°C (37.4°F) in-transit and on arrival for 14 days, but it seems the Chinese are looking at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) standard which is a lower temperature of around 2.21°C (36°F) for 21 days.

"We’re also looking to define smaller pest free areas, going back to methyl bromide as an option, and also irraditation; and Fruit Growers Tasmania are currently conducting irradiation tests and the results should be released at the fruit growers conference there on May 18."

The industry is also waiting on the results of tests in Sydney and a report to be written by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

He says Tasmania and the Riverland currently have pest-free status, but other relatively free regions such as Riverina and Sunraysia do not due to outbreaks. However, the latter two could come back on line soon.

For this reason the industry is hoping to establish smaller pest free status zones in different regions, while also introducing seasonal pest free windows for the country.

The industry is also hoping to cut a good protocol deal with Thailand, with inspectors expected to visit in mid-to-late November.

Boughey says the situation is similar with Thailand and hopes there will be access in early 2013, while for China the industry is aiming for the start of the 2012-13 season.

"We have learned our lessons from the past and have been working very closely with Biosecurity Australia through all of this; we've already got a protocol going with Taiwan, and we've got one with the U.S., and with each country we're trying to make those protocols viable.

"If we get a couple of protocols in countries like Thailand and China, then other countries that are interested could look at those as a starting point. That's where other countries like New Zealand and Chile have been very good at overcoming these hurdles.

"As an industry we have got to have a consistent approach to protocols, so that when someone approaches us, whether it is Malaysia or Vietnam, we can say 'here's what we have', and we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time."

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