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Australian ginger industry:

"We must maintain high biosecurity standards for sustainable future."

After over 12 years of negotiations, it appears the path may soon be clear for Fiji to commence exports of ginger to Australia.

Australia, with its own ginger industry, capable of meeting the needs of the domestic market, is concerned with protecting its own production from inadvertent breaches of biosecurity.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in its Import Risk Assessment, has acknowledge two potential threats which, though classified as "low risk," required additional measures of protection be taken. the report says,

"Specific pest risk management measures are proposed to achieve Australia's appropriate level of protection (ALOP)."

The two threats in question are yam scale and burrowing nematode.

Additionally DAFF proposes a series of registrations and audits to source any potential incursion and trace it to source as quickly as possible. However, with talk of trade taking place as early as late this year, the Australian industry is concerned that not enough is being done. Anthony Rehbein, President of the Australian Ginger Industry Association, says,

"Firstly, the Australian ginger industry believes that a thorough research project into pests and diseases in Fiji should be carried out so that all major pests and diseases can be screened for its strain and virulence.

"AGIA ultimately believes that Area Freedom and methyl bromide should be adopted.

"Clearly we must maintain high biosecurity standards to maintain our grower's sustainable future."

Australia produces in the region of 8,000 tonnes of ginger per year, all of which is sold domestically. This year the yield has been reduced in certain areas by flooding, as much as 20% according to some estimates, however, Anthony points out that there is still enough to satisfy demand.

"All contracts have been met for processing and the fresh market is well supplied 12 months of the year, 7 days a week, with high quality premium Australian ginger."

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