Exotic plant diseases can significantly damage Australia’s plant production and productive agriculture industries. Continuing international trade of agricultural commodities poses threats of introducing new exotic plant diseases to Australia. These could reduce yields, lower the quality of agricultural commodities, increase production costs and more importantly make it more difficult to sell produce on international markets. The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) through biosecurity risk analysis plays a critical role in reducing biosecurity risks to an acceptable level to protect our agricultural industries and the environment from exotic plant diseases.
Consistent with international obligations and Commonwealth legislation, the department conducts risk analyses of exotic plant pests. A risk analysis identifies pests associated with pathways (e.g. fruits) that present an unacceptable risk to Australia, and identifies pest management measures. Pest management measures are developed considering host-pathogen interactions, disease biology, mode of trade, production areas of the commodity and interception data to ensure risk is managed appropriately.
Biosecurity risk analysis for Plum pox virus, a most destructive disease of high-value stone fruit worldwide and a major threat to Australia’s stone fruit industry, is illustrated as a case study to show Australia’s biosecurity risk analysis system at work.