Plant biosecurity vital for improving food security

The important relationship of plant biosecurity to food security will be highlighted at the Crawford Fund’s annual conference Waste Not: Want Not: The Circular Economy to Food Security, at Hotel Realm in Canberra sponsored by the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre.

“In Australia plant biosecurity is most often associated with ensuring market access for our major agricultural exports, as well as threats to the natural environment from exotic pests and diseases”, said Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of the Plant Biosecurity CRC.

“For many other countries, an invasive pest can wipe out an entire harvest, such as the devastation to tomato production caused by the tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta, in many sub-Saharan African nations. Improving plant biosecurity has a direct bearing on whether a country can feed its people.”

The Plant Biosecurity CRC is leading several international biosecurity initiatives in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

“Since 2014 we have been working closely with the Crawford Fund and CAB International on the Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership (AAPBP), a program funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR),” said Dr Robinson.

“African biosecurity managers are leading a network that uses Australian expertise to strengthen their biosecurity skills and planning. The program can make a real difference to food security, as well as helping boost regional and international trade for ten African nations.”

The latest AAPBP capability building workshop begins on 5 September 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Plant Biosecurity CRC has also led the establishment of the Australia-Indonesia Bilateral Plant Biosecurity Initiative. This program is gaining momentum and recognition in Indonesia with both the research community and Indonesian Government. Australia is working in collaboration with Indonesia to support their goal of contributing to food security, with the advantage of also working together to protect Australia’s northern border against biosecurity risks.

The Plant Biosecurity CRC is also working with CAB International to establish remote microscope networks in South-East Asia, providing pest and disease diagnostic abilities in areas away from the main cities.

The Crawford Fund conference features eminent international and Australian speakers who will address a broad range of food loss and waste issues and solutions, with innovative case studies of impact along the field-to-fork value chain and beyond.

The Plant Biosecurity CRC provides leadership and coordination in the development, execution and delivery of plant biosecurity research that protects the environment and agricultural industries from exotic insects and diseases.

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