The disruption to trade caused by plant pests is a major issue for the horticulture industry in Australia and New Zealand. There is an urgent need to review and improve current disinfestation methods and to develop new export protocols. This project utilises postharvest disinfestation knowledge to underpin Australasian horticulture market access. In a review a range of disinfestation treatments and uses for horticulture were summarized, including over 30 fumigants and several alternative methods of control including energy treatments (microwave, radio frequency, irradiation), controlled atmosphere treatments and physical treatments (heat, cold, pressure, pest removal). The review concluded that market access treatments will have to rely less on fumigants and more on alternative methods of control, such as irradiation, controlled atmospheres and heat and cold.
At workshops with industry stakeholders current market access was discussed and priorities for developing export phytosanitary protocols for fruit and vegetables were identified which could be implemented in the supply chain. The top priorities for Phase two of this project were: firstly, develop a data package to negotiate pre-approved cold treatments for four fruit fly species before they establish in New Zealand or parts of Australia to enable on going trade during an incursion and eradication; secondly, develop shorter controlled atmosphere cold treatments to enable more perishable commodities to be air-freighted to market. These treatments are most likely to deliver the effectiveness required for exports while maintaining the integrity and quality of the produce.
In preparation for developing cold treatment protocols, the team is collating and generating critical cold disinfestation data for four fruit fly species. This data can be used by regulators in negotiations to prevent the closure of export markets or minimize the impacts while an eradication response is attempted.