Improving mango industry biosecurity capacity

Grown commercially in many areas in the Northern Territory (NT), Western Australia (WA) and Queensland (QLD). According to the Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook (2020-21), Australia produced around 52,000 tonnes of mangoes, worth $167 million.  Robust biosecurity mechanisms are key in maintaining the integrity of this high-value industry.

One such initiative is the Australian Mango Industry Biosecurity Program which is aimed at improving the mango industry’s biosecurity capacity to respond to high priority exotic pests and diseases and implement biosecurity best practices.

Managed by the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) and funded by Plant Health Australia (PHA) and Hort Innovation, the program has reached many significant milestones since its inception in 2019. The three-year program has increased awareness of on-farm biosecurity practices and successfully integrated on-farm biosecurity measures with relevant quality assurance and best management practice programs to reduce pest and disease impacts.

“The focus of the project is reflective of current priorities and target areas of biosecurity weakness within the mango industry,” said Marine Empson, AMIA’s Industry Development Manager.

Awareness and surveillance activities are a major focus of the project, with the aim to increase the chance of effective and efficient eradication in the event of an incursion.

“By knowing how to implement orchard biosecurity measures, growers can play a key role in protecting the Australian Mango Industry from the impacts of exotic pests and diseases,” said Stuart Kearns, PHA’s National Manager, Preparedness and RD&E

“If a new pest becomes established in an orchard, it can affect the whole business through loss of produce, increased orchard costs and loss of markets,” he said.

One of the latest achievements was the establishment of a common understanding of surveillance protocols of the key Fruit Pathway Pests and Mango Malformation Disease by PHA, the QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the NT Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, and NT Farmers.  

Some of the key Fruit Pathway Pests include exotic pests and diseases such as the red banded mango caterpillar, mango pulp weevil and mango malformation disease.  

Through targeted workshops and industry events the project also raised industry awareness of key exotic pests and diseases and how to report them. The project also conducted field and packing shed surveillance; distributed biosecurity related communications; and supported other relevant industry preparedness projects.

As part of the project, Industry Biosecurity Officers (IBOs) implement surveillance activities in orchards and packing sheds in selected businesses in main production regions to record the presence or absence of key pests and diseases.

To date, IBO’s have reported seven sightings of mango fruit borer (Citripestis eutraphera) during surveillance activities on two different farms in the NT. Other non-exotic pests that were found include pink wax scale (Ceroplastes rubens) and fruit spotting bug (Amblypelta nitida).  

In North Queensland, 165 mango seed weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae) infestations were identified during surveillance activities. The pest was found on 23 occasions in five packing sheds, and 11 orchards.  

“Pest surveillance data is highly valuable because it underpins many other aspects of the biosecurity system. Early detection and immediate reporting of an exotic pest greatly increases the chance of effective and efficient eradication,” said Mr Kearns.

Continued partnership and collaboration are key to a strong biosecurity system. Cultivating lasting relationships between PHA, AMIA, growers, industry stakeholders, and state governments remain a focus area to ensure the ongoing success of this project.

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