Sunraysia to benefit from $6.8m pest surveillance network

Sunraysia is set to benefit from a $6.8 million Coalition Government funded project to establish an advanced plant pest surveillance network which will monitor and report on threats to major primary production industries, including grains, cotton, horticulture, wine and forestry.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, joined Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, at the Mildura Field Days today to announce the funding for the Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) project, under the third round of the Coalition Government’s Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit programme.

“This investment directly supports improved returns at the farmgate by providing our farmers with the intelligence they need to guard against biosecurity threats, increase productivity and protect our premium produce,” Minister Joyce said.

“The end result will be a surveillance network that delivers a fast, reliable and cost effective means to identify pests, including endemic pests such as fruit fly, as well as exotic pests such as karnal bunt or Khapra beetle.”

Mr Broad said the network would include automated trapping and sampling technologies that monitored a wide range of endemic and exotic plant pests through advanced technology.

“This is a cutting edge project that links pest modelling with weather forecasting to better track emerging threats. And it will deploy mobile surveillance hubs that allow flexibility in the face of changing industry needs, such as the response to an incursion,” Mr Broad said.

Horticulture Innovation Australia chief executive John Lloyd said the new project, which will begin in July, will further safeguard Australian agriculture from pathogen and pest incursions.

“The early detection and identification of any new pathogen or pest is critical, and a pre-emptive approach is vital to control,” Mr Lloyd said.

“This initiative will utilise next-generation technologies to build on Australia’s reputation for offering clean, green plant products.”

Minister Joyce said the government’s Rural R&D for Profit programme delivered on the government’s election commitment to increase R&D funding for practical projects to give farmers new tools to help them increase farmgate returns and capture opportunities in global markets.

“We know it’s important that R&D isn’t just pie-in-the-sky ideas,” Minister Joyce said.

“The Rural R&D for Profit programme funds projects that deliver practical and accessible results for farmers, including managing pests, better pasture management and production techniques and improving access to premium markets.

“The $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit programme is on top of around $700 million that the government already invests in rural R&D each year.”

Fast facts

  • The Rural R&D for Profit programme funds projects that address the government’s rural RD&E priorities: advanced technology, biosecurity, managing natural resources, as well as promoting industry and on-farm adoption of R&D.
  • The first two rounds of the Rural R&D for Profit programme delivered grant funding of almost $79 million for 29 projects, matched by more than $109 million in cash and in-kind contributions from successful grantees and their partners.
  • In 2015 the value of export trade in all agricultural plant commodities (horticulture, forestry, grains) needing certification of pest area freedom (any pest) was approximately $1.6 billion.
  • The domestic value of the horticulture, forestry and grains industries in 2016-17 is estimated at $29 billion.

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