​Media Release

Keeping our eyes peeled for citrus pests

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud
Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad

8 March 2018

  • National Citrus Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2018–2028 to increase monitoring of citrus pests, including fruit fly
  • Better surveillance and early detection to help safeguard industry and minimise response costs
  • Investment of $352,000 under Coalition Government's Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

Australia's largest fresh fruit exporting industry received a sweetener today, with the launch of the Coalition Government's ten-year national strategy to tighten the squeeze on pests that can wreak havoc on our citrus industry.

​Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud joined Member for Mallee Andrew Broad in Mildura today to announce $352,000 to implement the National Citrus Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy.

"Exotic pests have no business here in Australia so we're going to war," Minister Littleproud said.

"Fruit fly and other pests can ruin fruit and kill market access for our valuable citrus industries.

"Keeping Australia free of the bacterial disease Huanglongbing (HLB) and the insect that spreads it – Asian citrus psyllid – is a priority.

"Citrus canker and the nation's number one unwanted plant pest Xylella fastidiosa also pose a grave threat to our successful citrus industry.

"I want to see the strong growth in the value of our citrus exports continue.

"In 2017 exports rose to a record 260 000 tonnes, valued at $427 million. This was an increase of 19 per cent in volume, and 31 per cent in value, from the previous year.

"This new strategy is the ammunition we need for a nationally coordinated response to strengthening surveillance by government and industry, led by Plant Health Australia and Citrus Australia."

Member for Mallee Andrew Board said keeping the region free of pests was essential to the local economy, jobs and livelihoods of many of this regions' blockies.

"The Sunraysia region is home to around 85 per cent of the state's citrus growers," Mr Broad said.

"In 2017 the farm gate value for citrus production in Sunraysia was over $88 million, from a volume of 147,000  tonnes of citrus.

"We need to ensure the earliest possible detection of incursions to help limit their spread and minimise the disruption outbreaks can cause our growers, not to mention the costs of control."

The $352,000 investment includes the appointment of a steering committee to oversee the new program and the recruitment of a National Citrus Surveillance Coordinator.

If you see any exotic fruit flies, damaged fruit or anything unusual, report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.

To view the National Citrus Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2018–2028 visit www.planthealthaustralia.com.au

Fast facts

  • This investment is in addition to $9 million in funding announced last year for a surveillance network and projects to demonstrate freedom from pests and boost exports.
  • Through the White Paper, the Coalition Government announced an additional $200 million for biosecurity surveillance and analysis to better target critical biosecurity risks.
  • In 2015–16, citrus production was valued at $678.5 million produced from 714,207 tonnes (Horticulture Innovation Australia Statistics Handbook, 2017).
  • Citrus is the largest fresh fruit exporting industry in Australia, with major export markets including Hong Kong, Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the United States and New Zealand (PHA, 2017).
  • With a reduction in import tariffs under trade agreements with China, Japan and Republic of Korea the real value of horticultural exports is expected to increase from $2.7 billion in 2015-16 to $3.4 billion in 2021-22 (ABARES Ag Commodities March quarter 2017)