The National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program (NY15004) has been continuing to deliver project activities throughout 2020 including representing industry across all biosecurity related issues and developing plant protection resources. COVID-19 isolation requirements, primarily those around the face to face contact with growers by project staff (Plant Protection Officers), has required a focus on project resource delivery such as technical and information factsheets, updating the content on the technical website, building new pest identification material and developing electronic plant protection templates for in-field data capture for growers. The program has continued to work with state, territory and federal government agencies relative to market access and plant quarantine issues as well as areas addressing plant traceability, cut flower import risks and the future regulatory framework for pesticide regulation.
GIA decided early in the COVID-19 pandemic to isolate staff from grower face to face contact, beginning 16th March 2020, with this protocol remaining in force through to mid-July at which time Plant Protection Officers in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia began re-engaging with growers through business visits. Due to the hard lockdown at a number of borders (Tasmania, South Australia and Northern Territory) project staff have not yet been able to re-engage growers in site visits however GIA is monitoring this situation in the hope movement will be reinstated in the not too distant future. The current Stage 4 requirements in Victoria have made it impossible to instigate any grower visits, and with such a fluid situation at present a return to visits is unknown, therefore our planning is turning to the use of electronic means as a measure for grower contact.
Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS)
GIA has continued to service the programs under the Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS) (NIASA, EcoHort and BioSecure HACCP) including working with growers in the programs, upgrading resources within the program manuals and technical website, engaging growers in the new sub-programs (specifications) and in assisting growers to implement best management practice. Effort has also been put towards developing digitised recording templates for use on smartphones and tablets to allow growers to capture in-field technical data and store it for future reference and to inform key decision making. It is anticipated these recording templates will be made available to businesses in mid-September 2020.
The uptake of new NIASA BMP specifications (avocado, banana, landscape and macadamia) is progressing with 3 businesses operating under the Avocado Nursery Stock Specification and one new business working towards adoption. The Landscape Tree Stock Specification is operational with one business certified and approximately 4 businesses expressing interest with one business moving to final adoption. The Banana Nursery Stock Specification is in the transition phase (2020) with 5 production nurseries moving towards full implementation by the end of 2020. The Macadamia Nursery Stock Specification is operational with no businesses accredited however 2 businesses are engaged and working towards adoption and compliance. GIA is also in discussion with a number of businesses seeking NIASA accreditation and/or BioSecure HACCP certification.
The national 2020 auditing of certified businesses under the APPS is already underway in some states where the freedom to travel is available including Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. GIA is anticipating that hard border closures will be relaxed in the coming months to allow activities to occur in Tasmania, South Australia and Northern Territory. If borders are not opened within a suitable timeframe to allow full auditing to occur GIA is working to implement a ‘Remote Systems Auditing’ procedure with further advice to growers to follow later in the year.
Get in touch:
- John McDonald- National Biosecurity Manager (National & TAS) - 0419 683 457
- Steve Blyth - Plant Protection Officer (WA & NT) - 0427 215 210
- Emma De Landre - Plant Protection Officer (NSW & ACT) - 0409 737 801
- Celeste Cook - Plant Protection Officer (QLD & Northern NSW) - 0491 262 596
- Kimberley Thomas - Plant Protection Officer (VIC & SA) - 0419 864 746