​Media Release

Red witchweed eradication plans well advanced

25 March 2015

Australia is another step closer to the eradication of red witchweed following industry and government endorsement of an eradication response plan.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Member for Dawson, George Christensen, welcomed the progress and congratulated the parties involved following a recent meeting of the Red Witchweed National Management Group (NMG). 

Red witchweed was confirmed in an area near Mackay, Queensland in July 2013,” Minister Joyce said.

“Since then, the Queensland Government in cooperation with land holders has undertaken an active containment and management programme to ensure this weed does not spread.

“The Australian Government has been working closely with states, territories and industry to develop an effective eradication plan. All parties have now agreed on that plan in principle.

We are now working to reach agreement on cost sharing arrangements and final implementation, and I hope to be able to announce that agreement very soon.

To date, the level of cooperation between governments, industry and affected farmers has been outstanding and I am confident that will continue into the next phase.

The Member for Dawson, George Christensen, said he has monitored the red witchweed situation closely since it emerged and is pleased that government and industry have come together to address this serious issue.

Working quickly and decisively can prevent a problem like red witchweed getting out of hand,” Mr Christensen said.

“Our agricultural industries are too valuable to take any risks so it has been important for authorities to work together for an effective plan to protect the interests of farming families and the industry in general.”

Minister Joyce said that based on overseas experience, the Australian eradication plan could completely eliminate red witchweed in 10 years.
Red witchweed (Striga asiatica) is a parasitic plant that grows on the roots of many common crops – including sugarcane, sorghum, maize, and rice. It can also affect wheat and barley.

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for responding to the incursion with the assistance of the Commonwealth Government together with industry.

"It’s vitally important that we get this right – this weed has serious implications for Australian agriculture,” Minister Joyce said.

“Overseas red witchweed causes significant reductions in the yield of susceptible crops affecting the profitability of farmers and we don’t want that to happen here.

“Our farmers are the priority here. We are working hard to ensure that their productivity and access to international markets is not compromised.”

Development of the eradication plan has included input from the Australian Government, state governments and industry bodies including Grain Producers Australia, CANEGROWERS and the Cattle Council. AgForce, Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia have also participated.

If you suspect red witchweed on your property please contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or report via the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. Further information is available at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website.