Eradication of plant pest ‘not feasible’

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times

The Department of Agriculture and Food is working with industry on a plan to manage the tomato potato psyllid after a decision the pest could not be eradicated in Australia.

The insect pest was first discovered in WA in February, which prompted a range of measures including export embargoes and quarantine zones.

The psyllid attacks vegetables in the solanaceae family, including tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli and tamarillo.

The department’s biosecurity and regulation executive director Kevin Chennell said in the past three months DAFWA had undertaken extensive trapping and surveillance throughout the horticulture regions and Perth to check for the pest and take measures to stop it.

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He also said the National Management Group had agreed it was not technically feasible to eradicate the psyllid and supported the the transition to a management program.

“The department is currently working with industry and national partners on the management plan, which is focused on control options on farms, supply chain management and restoring access to interstate markets for affected produce,” he said.

“This work includes identifying key areas for further research to improve management outcomes and market access.”

Surveillance will also continue for the bacteria the pest can carry, which could be a further threat to horticulture industries.

“The psyllid has now been found on more than 70 properties across the metropolitan area and in some regional areas,” Dr Chennell said.

“However, there have been no detections of the bacteria.”

Any new detections in regional areas should be reported to the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881.

Visit www.agric.wa.gov.au/tpp for more information.

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