There’s never been a more exciting and positive outlook for plant industries in the Northern Territory (NT). Well established industries such as mangoes and melons have reached a level of maturity that sees them provide significant annual value to the NT economy. In addition, wholesale and retail nurseries, other horticulture and mixed cropping, continue to develop and form an integral part of the expansion of NT exports to existing and new trading partners.
The variety of crops grown across the NT include mangoes, melons, citrus, dates, hay, fresh vegetables, tropical fruits and on the road to recovery – bananas. The opportunities to enhance agriculture production are also immense and the Central Australian Horticultural Development Project, being implemented by Plant Industries Division, is demonstrating promising results for diversification of cropping and expansion of horticulture to include crops such as seed potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and pumpkin.
With officers based in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs, the NT Plant Biosecurity Branch is responsible for maintaining the overall plant health status of the Territory, providing essential market access services and protecting primary industries, building domestic and export markets nationally and internationally. The Plant Biosecurity Branch must also ensure preparedness for effective emergency response in the event of an incursion by providing leadership, technical advice and support in the event of Emergency Plant Pest incursions.
In recent times the Territory has faced a number of exotic plant pest and disease incursions, such as Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus and Banana Freckle however, the Territory’s plant industries do remain in an enviable position of being free from many of the serious pests that impact industries overseas.
Diversification of horticulture in the NT increases market access opportunities but also increases pest and disease risks by introducing new crop hosts in monoculture. Therefore, such a diverse collection of plant industries requires a strong foundation in biosecurity practices delivered through partnership with industry, community and the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Plant Biosecurity Branch. The success of the plant industries of the NT are living proof this goal is entirely possible and can be achieved.