Boost for WA biosecurity

31 Oct, 2014 01:00 AM
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Regional Development Minister Terry Redman, Premier Colin Barnett, Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston and DAFWA A/Executive Director for Biosecurity and Regulation John Ruprecht  walking through mango trials at DAFWA’s Kununurra research facilities.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman, Premier Colin Barnett, Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston and DAFWA A/Executive Director for Biosecurity and Regulation John Ruprecht walking through mango trials at DAFWA’s Kununurra research facilities.

THE State Government will invest $20 million in the agriculture and food sector's biosecurity defences to help capture a share of growing international markets, including the use of smart phone technology in the early detection of pests and weeds.

Premier Colin Barnett said the Government's Royalties for Regions investment would reinforce the State's enviable biosecurity reputation and ensure that WA's pest and disease-free status was maintained.

"Being free from many of the world's worst pests and diseases gives WA a tremendous marketing advantage,'' Mr Barnett said.

"We must work to protect this reputation to ensure existing and future trade opportunities are not compromised."

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said the project included activities to address biosecurity risk assessment, early detection of declared pests and disease, preparedness to respond to incursions of significant pests and disease, awareness and compliance with new laws, community engagement and the use of new technology.

Modelling, e-surveillance and other new technologies will be developed to aid early detection of pests, diseases and weeds.

It's hoped smart phone technology innovation could also encourage biosecurity recording, reporting and investigation, particularly in the grains and grape industries.

Technology will be piloted in Carnarvon to eradicate Mediterranean fruit fly, a pest that costs the WA horticultural industry millions of dollars a year in production losses and management costs.

The projects are part of the $300 million Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative, a whole-of-government approach delivering outcomes for the agrifood sector with four agencies supporting the delivery of 14 programs.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the Royalties for Regions investment would be community-led and encourage innovative solutions to help manage biosecurity risks.

"Industry, government and the community are working together to protect the value and reputation of WA's agrifood sector and enhance the vitality of regional communities," he said.

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