Australia: US$3.9M research project to put systems approach on the table

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Australia: US$3.9M research project to put systems approach on the table

While systems approach pest mitigation is par for the course in many fresh produce-exporting nations, in Australia it is not as widespread.

A new effort may change that thanks to a AUD$5 million (US$3.9 million) push to strengthen the evidence of pest control measures, which if successful could serve to widen the options available to growers both domestically and abroad.

The four-year national project, funded by Hort Innovation and research partners and led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), will involve developing new approaches for preventing and handling risks across the supply chain, and setting limits relating to these risks.

These protocols will also require regular testing of the system and the maintenance of adequate records.

This systems approach will be developed in line with what is already acceptable to Asian markets.

Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said the project aimed to provide growers more options to meet domestic market access requirements.

“Maintaining areas in Australia that are free from pests, such as fruit fly and codling moths, has been one important way for producers to access domestic and then international markets,” he said.

“For produce grown outside of those areas, options such as cold treatment and methyl bromide fumigation make market access possible in some situations.

“This systems approach should provide another option for industries who face limited phytosanitary treatment options due to the negative impacts they can have on fruit quality or the declining numbers of chemical treatments available.”

He said a range of on-farm activities currently in place such as in-field pest management, inspection and the grading of produce, post-harvest treatments and cool storage were widely used to manage quarantine pests and meet market expectations.

“This project will deliver the science required to underpin the stringent pest management practices being used by Australian growers by showing we are maintaining quality while satisfying the biosecurity requirements of domestic trade.”

As part of the project, CSIRO is working with the Western Australian, New South Wales and Victorian Governments to collect data at test sites including cherry farms in Victoria and New South Wales, apple farms in Western Australia and citrus operations in New South Wales.

CSIRO Senior Research Scientist Dr. Rieks Van Klinken said the project's goal was to support growers and help stop the spread of pests in Australia.

“This project is aiming to see how different combinations of pest measures can reassure importers and regulators that produce is pest-free,” Dr. Van Klinken said.

“Pests such as Queensland fruit fly are hugely damaging to Australian growers, so with this project our aim, in tandem with our other efforts against Qfly and horticultural pests, is to help open up lucrative domestic and international markets.”

Once complete, the systems approach protocols will be supplied to the government regulators to support any interstate, then hopefully international, negotiations.

This collaborative project also involves input from the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and regional Development, Agriculture Victoria, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, and various industry groups and growers.


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