Australia may soon open its doors to Malayasian pineapples with the announcement by the country’s biosecurity officials of provisional access approval.
The provisional final import risk analysis (IRA) was released by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Biosecurity late last week, and recommends de-crowned fresh Malaysian pineapples be given access based on a protocol requiring methyl bromide fumigation, registration and inspections to guard against mealybugs.
DAFF’s announcement of the protocol has drawn fire from the Australian pineapple industry, which has been working to restrict any eventual Malaysian entry since the access process began two years ago.
“The IRA allows relatively unrestricted access for Malaysian pines and has not recommended any special quarantine protocols for `bacterial fruit collapse and heart rot`, dismissing them as minor risks,” said Alex Livingstone, CEO of Queensland and pineapple peak industry body Growcom.
“This treatment of our industry is a severe blow to the morale of stakeholders and could curtail future investment and expansion, despite promising developments in new varieties,” added Chris Fullerton, chairman of the Pineapple Growers Advancement Group.
The new protocol requires pre-export or on-arrival treatment by methyl bromide, as well as registrations of farms, packhouses and fumigators. The protocol also requires pre-export and on-arrival inspection and certification of shipments.
Malaysian production of the export-oriented sweet MD2 pineapple variety is increasing to fill international demand, and the country’s total plantings of the variety hit 14,164ha last year, according to local sources.
Appeals to the provisional IRA are open for another month, and DAFF Biosecurity will recommend it be enacted once any appeals are properly addressed.
Australia currently allows pineapple imports from Sri Lanka, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines and Thailand.