Ginger growers back move for stronger biosecurity

John Savelio picks ginger in the Mary Valley. PHOTO: RENEE PILCHER
John Savelio picks ginger in the Mary Valley. PHOTO: RENEE PILCHER

GYMPIE region ginger growers have backed a move for stronger laws on biosecurity.

The support comes after horticulture organisation Growcom called for the Import Risk Analyses of pineapples, ginger and potatoes to be overturned.

The advice followed a report released from the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Reference Committee, which outlines the effects of imported produce on Australian growers.

The local ginger industry has experienced several difficulties in the past two years and Gympie grower John Dickfos said if biosecurity laws were not tightened, it would be another knock for the industry.

"We have had all sorts of pressures: pests, climate change and drought, and this is another issue to deal with," he said.

"If something is not done (with biosecurity) it will eat away at our viability.

"Our industry is worth saving and it's significant to hundreds of people."

The Australian Ginger Industry Association has recommended the importation of fresh ginger from Fiji be reassessed.

President Anthony Rehbein said Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, must consider tougher restrictions.

"We have argued from the outset that the extent and quality of the scientific information used by the department to underpin the draft Import Risk Analysis and measure risk was woefully inadequate," Mr Rehbein said.

Gympie and regional grower Shane Templeton agreed, adding there had not been enough research conducted in Fiji to determine all the risks of imported ginger.

"There are two pests we are concerned about: the yam scale and Fijian burrowing nematode," he said.

"We have always questioned whether Fiji has enough scientific evidence about disease and pests.

"Biosecurity Australia has said the risk was not strong enough and we feel due diligence has not been served and the senate inquiry upholds that."

Chief advocate Rachel Mackenzie said Joyce needed to consider the recommendations made regarding the biosecurity concerns.

"These are based on scientific analyses of the very real threats to domestic production from identified pests, including bacterial fruit collapse and heart rot in pineapples," she said.

"We understand our call to overturn these IRAs is unchartered waters but the findings of the committee are unequivocal that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has been lax in protecting Australia's biosecurity.

"Now that the focus has turned once again to increasing Australia's agricultural production and productivity to meet Asian food demands, and in particular to growing overseas markets for exports, it is to be hoped biosecurity threats to future markets will be taken more seriously."

Gympie Times

Topics:  biosecurity farmer ginger

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