In the first week of May, AUSVEG, Plant Health Australia and RMCG’s Doris Blaesing facilitated an industry consultation workshop with all sectors of the potato industry to understand the who, what and where of the industry’s approach to surveillance of exotic and notifiable pests and diseases. The workshop was one of the first steps towards developing the National Potato Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy, and included members from the ware, processing and seed potato industries in relevant states and territories.

Funded through the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the aim of this strategy is to improve crop monitoring outcomes for potato production in both commercial and urban/peri-urban areas; improve grower capability to detect and report exotic pest incursions; identify issues and opportunities for the establishment of a national potato biosecurity surveillance program.

After an introduction to the project’s plans for the strategy and an outline of the workshop, attendees jumped straight into a series of interactive tasks designed to capture awareness and current crop monitoring approaches within the industry. These activities generated a lot of discussion, and with such a diverse collective of industry representatives, enabled the organisers to capture well-rounded feedback to a variety of themes covered throughout the day.

Overall, the Australian potato industry recognises the need for a unified front to combat issues surrounding biosecurity. It was acknowledged that sharing data and information collected during crop monitoring is important for the success of the industry. The project team is now putting together all of the valuable information collected during the workshop, and will apply that to the development of two industry-based pilot surveillance programs to be rolled out in the middle of the year. The team will continue to consult with industry to deliver a strategy the potato industry can be proud to stand behind.

This post appeared in the AUSVEG Weekly Update published 7 May 2019. Subscribe to the Update using our online form to receive the latest industry news in your inbox every week!