Biosecurity staff intercept illegal citrus imports
29 June 2018
Biosecurity staff in Brisbane have successfully intercepted an illegal import of citrus budwood that tests confirmed harboured citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing.
“Citrus Australia is thankful that the recent interception of citrus material by biosecurity staff at Brisbane airport has prevented Huanglongbing entering Australia,” said CEO of Citrus Australia Nathan Hancock.
“We are grateful for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources staff who have made this detection, it has prevented the entry of a devastating citrus disease into the country.”
Huanglongbing is currently not present in Australia. Where it does exist, it reduces production, renders fruit inedible and eventually kills the tree. There is no known cure for Huanglongbing so keeping it out of Australia is key to the health of Australia’s citrus industry.
“We produce 750,000 tonnes of citrus a year, and have seen an increase in citrus export value to $460 million in the past year,” said Hancock.
“The citrus industry supports a huge number of regional and rural families and businesses and contributes a significant amount to the Australian economy.
“Australia has a fantastic clean budwood program called Auscitrus. Auscitrus can produce a wide range of citrus trees without risking the spread of transmissible citrus diseases.
“Our greatest biosecurity risk is people returning from overseas with citrus plant material in their luggage.
“It is staggering to think that people would take that risk when citrus is so readily available both at retail outlets and through nurseries if you want to grow your own.”
Countries affected by Huanglongbing have suffered huge losses in production. Farmers, some of whom have been growing fruit for generations, have left their industry. Other residents can no longer grow citrus in their backyards.
“The Australian citrus industry wants to keep producing fresh, healthy, high-quality Australian citrus for Australian and overseas consumers,” added Hancock.
“We can continue to do so with the support of a good biosecurity system and by ensuring travellers are biosecurity-aware.”
Plant Health Australia fact sheets:
Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881
Citrus Australia Ltd
03 5023 6333