Small Farms

Keeping our eyes peeled for citrus pests

Australia’s largest fresh fruit exporting industry received a sweetener, with the launch of the Government’s ten-year national strategy to tighten the squeeze on pests that can wreak havoc on our citrus industry.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud joined Member for Mallee Andrew Broad in Mildura to announce $352,000 to implement the National Citrus Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy.

“Exotic pests have no business here in Australia so we’re going to war,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Fruit fly and other pests can ruin fruit and kill market access for our valuable citrus industries.

“Keeping Australia free of the bacterial disease Huanglongbing (HLB) and the insect that spreads it – Asian citrus psyllid – is a priority.

“Citrus canker and the nation’s number one unwanted plant pest Xylella fastidiosa also pose a grave threat to our successful citrus industry.

“I want to see the strong growth in the value of our citrus exports continue.

“In 2017 exports rose to a record 260 000 tonnes, valued at $427 million. This was an increase of 19 per cent in volume, and 31 per cent in value, from the previous year.

“This new strategy is the ammunition we need for a nationally coordinated response to strengthening surveillance by government and industry, led by Plant Health Australia and Citrus Australia.”

Member for Mallee Andrew Board said keeping the region free of pests was essential to the local economy, jobs and livelihoods of many of this regions’ blockies.

“The Sunraysia region is home to around 85 per cent of the state’s citrus growers,” Mr Broad said.

“In 2017 the farm gate value for citrus production in Sunraysia was over $88 million, from a volume of 147,000 tonnes of citrus.

“We need to ensure the earliest possible detection of incursions to help limit their spread and minimise the disruption outbreaks can cause our growers, not to mention the costs of control.”

The $352,000 investment includes the appointment of a steering committee to oversee the new program and the recruitment of a National Citrus Surveillance Coordinator.

If you see any exotic fruit flies, damaged fruit or anything unusual, report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.

Source: Australian Government

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