September 10, 2012

Ginger growers fear Fiji pest could wipe out crops

Posted Sat Sep 8, 2012 7:50am AEST

The National Party is pushing for a Senate inquiry into the threat of disease posed by ginger imports from Fiji.

Australian growers are concerned about the risk of disease and Nationals Senator Ron Boswell says he will urge the Senate to examine the risks involved in allowing the import.

Ginger growers have until next week to respond to a Department of Agriculture report on Fijian ginger imports.

Australian Ginger Industry Association chairman Anthony Rehbein says he is unhappy about quarantine measures outlined in Biosecurity Australia's final risk analysis.

"We feel as the association that those mitigation measures were extremely poor to fight against Radopholus similis," he said.

Mr Rehbein says they have only been allowed to comment on the process but not Biosecurity Australia's recommendations.

"We weren't happy with the mitigation measures that were put in place. We really are seeking support from the Federal Government," he said.

The industry says the pest could wipe out local crops and Senator Boswell says the industry has valid concerns.

"They believe that it is almost guaranteed that the pest or threat of burrowing nematode, which is quite a significant risk, will come into Australia," he said.

"We're getting hit everywhere, pineapples, potatoes, ginger is a small one, but a lot of people are very worried about the importation of disease."

Senator Boswell says he is confident of getting support for an inquiry, which would allow growers to tender their own scientific evidence.

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