Plant Health Australia (PHA) has expanded its membership base to 38 peak industry bodies, after it welcomed the representative associations for the sweet potato, truffle and blueberry sectors into its fold this week.
Executive director and chief executive of PHA, Greg Fraser, said it was pleasing to see a growing portion of Australia’s plant production now covered by the organisation.
“The more industries that are involved, the better for everyone,” Fraser explained. “It means that we have nearly all of the major players in the tent, which bolsters the coordination of plant biosecurity in Australia."
In addition to the 28 industries, all Australian governments are members of the not-for-profit organisation.
“A biosecurity system can only be effective if everyone is pulling in the same direction, which is where PHA comes in—we assist governments and industries to agree pest priorities and to work collaboratively to protect against them,” Fraser added.
Joining PHA allows industry bodies to sign up to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD), Australia’s agreement on how exotic pest incursions affecting crops and honey bees are responded to, and how the costs of a response are shared.
The three new members are the Australian Sweet Potato Growers, Australian Blueberry Growers Association and Australian Truffle Growers Association.
John Maltby, secretary of Australian Sweet Potato Growers, said joining PHA is an important step in securing the long-term sustainability of his industry.
“Australian Sweet Potato Growers takes biosecurity seriously,” Maltby said. “There are many exotic pest threats overseas, each of which makes production of sweet potatoes more difficult. We don’t want our producers to have to deal with them and we look forward to working closely with PHA.”