Media Release

Review of IRA for fresh ginger from Fiji

17 November 2014

The Department of Agriculture will review the import conditions for Fijian ginger following the commencement of trade earlier this year.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the review was recommended in the Final Import Risk Analysis Report for fresh ginger from Fiji, published in January 2013, and had originally been scheduled to take place twelve months after the commencement of trade.

“The detection of live Root Knot nematode in ginger from Fiji has revived concerns about the potential prevalence of the Burrowing nematode, or Radopholus similis and any chance it may have survived the extensive import conditions applied to fresh ginger from Fiji,” Minister Joyce said.

“It is important that industry and the community have confidence in the import protocols imposed by the Department of Agriculture to mitigate risk. I am pleased therefore that the Director of Quarantine has brought forward the review in order to clarify the science around Radopholus similis.

“Because Australia takes a conservative approach to biosecurity, the January 2013 Import Risk Analysis (IRA) set out measures to mitigate the risk associated with this provisional pest.

“Media reports have suggested the biosecurity status of the ginger industry has been compromised; I can assure people however that these reports are misguided and that no pest of concern has been detected since the trade commenced.

“While tests performed by the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on a consignment of imported ginger did find live nematodes—root knot nematodes—these are already found in Australia and their presence was not a surprise, nor a quarantine concern.

“Independent testing ordered by my own department also confirmed that the live nematodes found were root knot nematodes, already common in Australia, and were not Radopholus similis.

“The review will re-examine the previous work and literature, as well as any new science regarding the quarantine status of the burrowing nematode and the efficacy of the measures applied to manage the identified biosecurity risks,” Minister Joyce said.

The stringent conditions that apply to Fijian ginger imports are:

  • Ginger must be sourced from registered farms and prepared for export in registered packing houses. 
  • Ginger rhizomes must be free of shoots, roots, soil and any other contaminants.
  • They must be fumigated with methyl bromide, either in Fiji or on-arrival in Australia. 
  • Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) must conduct a pre-export inspection of 600 ginger pieces to ensure that any material of quarantine concern is detected, and certify that the consignment meets all the requirements listed above.
  • The Australian Department of Agriculture inspects all consignments of ginger on arrival to ensure no pests, disease symptoms or soil is present. This inspection is carried out by trained officers, using optical enhancements, who will look for specific quarantine concerns such as yam scale and burrowing nematode.

“I invite all interested stakeholders to have their say through the consultation process,” Minister Joyce said.

Details of the review, including the terms of reference, are available on the department’s website at agriculture.gov.au/ba/memos/ba-2014-14.