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Planned response needed to prevent the spread of melon virus
Mr Livingstone said the occurrence of the disease in the Northern Territory was concerning and it needed to be managed in Queensland according to established response procedures to prevent the disease entering the State.
He called on the Government to set up a committee of industry and government representatives urgently to manage the situation by ensuring good communication of biosecurity procedures to Queensland farms.
Mr Livingstone said that growers who grew a range of cucurbits should note that apart from watermelon, the virus can infect cucumber, zucchini, melon, pumpkin, squash bitter gourd and bottle gourd crops and can survive for long periods on machinery and equipment surfaces. It is contagious and transmitted by contact but can be destroyed at high temperatures.
He said it was important for Queensland industry to work with QDAFF to ensure risks were minimised in Queensland.
“Unfortunately, the watermelon industry is not eligible for financial compensation because the Australian Melon Association is not a signatory to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed,” said Mr Livingstone.
Under the quarantine arrangements, the Chief Plant Health Manager will advise affected growers on how to treat and dispose of watermelon plants and associated materials. All watermelon crops in quarantine areas must be destroyed within two weeks by burning and deep burial. Plastic mulch from the affected crops must also be destroyed.
Free financial business support and counselling is available for Northern Territory growers. Staff from Rural Business Support in South Australia, an independent and confidential service, is available by calling 1800 836 211 for an appointment.
Information about other support services, including family and personal counselling, is also available at www.dpif.nt.gov.au/cucumbervirus
Queensland growers who want more information on appropriate biosecurity measures to put in place on their farms should contact Christine Horlock at QDAFF by email: Christine.email@example.com
For more information:
Tel: +61 07 3620 3844
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