KEY representatives from the State’s grain industry say they are confident WA’s quarantine measures are adequate, after touring a number of biosecurity operations throughout Perth.
For the first time last month the GrainGuard committee was given an insight into WA’s frontline quarantine system, after visiting the Canning Vale wholesale produce markets and attending meetings with staff from Quarantine WA and the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).
GrainGuard is a joint initiative between the grain industry and the State government, set up to provide direction and priority setting in matters relating to biosecurity, chemical residues and market access.
It is comprised of representatives from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), WAFarmers, WA Grains Group, Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA, Grain Industry Association of Western Australia and the CBH Group.
WA’s biosecurity system has faced several challenges this year, including the detection of the tomato potato psyllid for the first time in February.
In addition, just under 900 kilograms of grain was seized at Perth Airport in 2016, along with 2.2 tonnes of illegal legumes, more than 350kg of fungi and 6.1t of meat.
GrainGuard grower member Ray Marshall said the tour renewed confidence for committee members that WA’s biosecurity system was working adequately.
“We as GrainGuard group want to know all the operations and all of the links that are in the chain,” Mr Marshall said.
“It’s extremely important that we remain vigilant, WA is probably one of the most isolated agricultural areas in the world, we have a vested interest and probably a greater opportunity to keep this stuff out of WA than most parts of the world.
“All in all we were very happy with the collaboration and co-operation between the different agencies, we left with the confidence that they are probably doing the best that they can do.”
Mr Marshall said the GrainGuard committee suggested improvements to biosecurity operations on the Great Central Road and a greater focus on biosecurity information given to tourists at their departure sites to avoid illegal importations.
He said stakeholder consultation was also imperative in ensuring the ongoing success of WA’s biosecurity system, and the tour was a step in the right direction.
“It was of great value to learn more about the current role of the State authorities and the role of the Federal authorities,” Mr Marshall said.
“Our view is that the exercise will help create a bond between the various units, the farmers and their representatives, and contribute to a greater understanding of the issues surrounding the protection of the WA grain crop.”
DPIRD plant biosecurity director Shashi Sharma said the tour emphasised the importance of having robust quarantine measures in place to ensure the State was protected from threats to biosecurity.
“While technological capabilities are certainly improving, effective biosecurity still rests very much on industry, government and community vigilance,” Dr Sharma said.
“Maintaining our biosecurity integrity is crucial to upholding WA’s reputation as an exporter of quality grain products.”
Dr Sharma said meeting with the DAWR gave a good insight into the measures being taken on a Federal level to ensure biosecurity threats were stopped.
Mr Marshall said GrainGuard hoped to tour the State’s quarantine facilities more regularly, and would work towards holding the tour biannually.