Article by: Hari Yellina
Two groups have demonstrated the success of a programme to promote vegetable and potato biosecurity as the agriculture industry considers the draught for a national biosecurity plan. Following the successful completion of the first part of the two-year Ausveg Farm Biosecurity Project, the second phase began in July 2021. The project will be completed in June 2023. Ausveg and Plant Health Australia (PHA) collaborated on the initiative, which is supported by the National Vegetable and Potato Levies. The project’s second phase will place a greater emphasis on the function and value of urban biosecurity, with a particular focus on RD&E programmes and farm biosecurity.
General Manager of Partnerships and Innovation at Plant Health Australia Plant industries, according to Dr. Mila Bristow, generally regard farm biosecurity as too difficult to establish or unneeded. “Because future exotic pest incursions are unavoidable, strengthening the resilience of biosecurity practises is critical,” Dr. Bristow added. According to PHA, the programme has boosted producer and industry knowledge of key pest concerns, promoted the application of on-farm biosecurity techniques, offered practical information for improving on-farm biosecurity, and integrated on-farm biosecurity measures in the first six months.
“Creating a better understanding of the shared responsibility to improve industry biosecurity resilience through increased levels of on-farm preparedness demonstrates measures that growers can easily implement to gain better protection for their crops and livelihoods is a key success factor of the project,” Dr. Bristow said. Working with industry, state and territory governments, and the Australian government to strengthen biosecurity knowledge and reporting, as well as improve communication of pest issues and threats, the project intends to improve biosecurity risk preparedness and response processes.
Despite COVID-19 limits, Ausveg biosecurity personnel in Melbourne and Cairns successfully completed all project deliverables in the last six months. Six face-to-face workshops were delivered, five online workshops (webinars) were facilitated, 48 growers were visited, and 43 communications in the form of articles, e-bulletins, weekly updates, fact sheets, and videos were produced. The biosecurity officers are funded by industry levies highlighting the value industries place on biosecurity.