The future of Australia’s lychee industry looks more secure following the release of a new national biosecurity plan for protection of the lychee industry. The Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Lychee Industry was developed by Plant Health Australia (PHA) in close collaboration with the Australian Lychee Growers’ Association (ALGA). The biosecurity plan was funded by Horticulture Australia Ltd through grower levies and presents the first nationally coordinated and consistent approach to identifying and reducing the risk of potential new pests for the lychee industry.
The lychee plan was developed following a review by industry, government and other relevant stakeholders of the pests from across the globe that are likely to survive, spread and establish if they breach Australian borders. High priority pest threats of the Australian lychee industry were identified, including the fungus Brown blight (Peronophythora litchii), the Lychee fruit borer (Conopomorpha litchiella) and Witches’ broom disease. These or other identified pests would pose serious consequences for lychee growers should they enter and become established in Australia, potentially devastating lychee yields.
The Australian lychee industry is emerging as one of Australia’s leading sunrise industries and is unique in having the longest lychee production season in the world. There are approximately 250 lychee growers across Australia, with farms extending for over 2,500 km from Cooktown in Far North Queensland to Coffs Harbour in NSW. The farm-gate value of the industry has been estimated at $15 million per annum.
Ian Groves, President of ALGA, says the Industry Biosecurity Plan is a valuable resource and a significant step forward for the lychee industry. Its development demonstrates the commitment of the industry to biosecurity awareness.
“We are proud of this plan to manage the threat of new pests” he said. “It’s a vital tool to ensure the future viability and sustainability of the lychee industry.”
Mr Groves said all growers can play a role in protecting their own farms and the industry from biosecurity threats by reporting anything unusual immediately to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline. The toll free number is 1800 084 881 nationally.
Executive Director and CEO of PHA, Greg Fraser, is enthusiastic about the launch of the new industry biosecurity plan. While Australia has a world class quarantine system, the sheer volume of trade and movement means that the threat of pest incursions is real.
“If a new pest becomes established, it could affect businesses through increased farm costs, reduced productivity and loss of markets,” he said. “That’s why we recommend regular pest surveillance – it gives us the chance to detect pests early enough to stop them spreading through lychee growing areas. By applying the advice contained in the biosecurity plan, producers will improve their own biosecurity and that of their regions.”