Article by: Hari Yellina
For the next year, the Australian melon sector will be surrounded by an additional ring of biosecurity protection, with the intention that the impacts will endure much longer. PHA and Melons Australia have launched a one-year Melon Industry Extension for Biosecurity project to improve melon growers’ biosecurity response, recovery capacity, and understanding of proactive on-farm biosecurity policies. The potential of exotic pests and diseases entering Australia remains as global trade and travel expand. Growers must be careful in applying proactive and preventative biosecurity measures to protect their livelihoods and the industry now more than ever.
The project will engage with growers and agronomists across Australia’s melon regions to improve general biosecurity standards. It is sponsored by a combined melon industry levy. Growers will also receive an on-farm biosecurity toolkit with materials to improve farm hygiene, biosecurity, and monitoring techniques as part of the project. Extension workshops will be held in each of the growing zones as well. A surveillance component will strive to further educate growers on surveillance methodologies and the benefits of increasing on-farm surveillance for exotic pests and diseases, as well as to understand present levels of pest and disease monitoring. In the framework of a biosecurity emergency response, the research will also investigate the melon industry’s grasp of production and supply chain economics.
“This initiative is quite exciting because it will enable us to get out and talk to growers about this important preparedness work for future biosecurity invasions, as well as begin to investigate solutions for the industry to efficiently capture production costs,” Mr Davey said. Melon grower levies also support Joanna Embry, Melons Australia’s biosecurity officer, who will be assisting with this initiative. Ms. Embry has worked in the melon sector in various capacities since 1997, and she has developed relationships and experience with growers that will aid in achieving the project’s goals. PHA will administer and assist the initiative on a national basis as the trusted coordinator of Australia’s plant biosecurity system. The melon sector exports to Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates, with a value of $26.7 million in 2021, down 40% from 2020.