ABC: The head of Australia’s ginger industry says he’s furious with a decision to allow imports of fresh ginger from Fiji, with confirmation some permits have already been granted.
The Department of Agriculture finalised the import conditions last month, one month after the Federal Government announced a review into the way import risks were measured.
Despite criticism, a department spokesperson says there are tried and tested systems in place to protect Australia from pest and disease, in accordance with the World Trade Organisation.
Anthony Rehbein, from the Australian Ginger Growers Association, says rules to make sure ginger imports are free from soil and treated with a surface spray aren’t enough to kill a destructive roundworm.
“The roundworm or (burrowing) nematode that is in the ginger reproduces internally inside the ginger, methyl bromide is a surface spray; it does not penetrate the product; I think there needs to be more science applied.”
He says the industry is applying for a $500,000 project to further research the nematode, and is launching a program to make people aware there is an issue with Fijian ginger.
It’s expected the nematode could affect other crops including bananas, citrus and pineapples.
The Department of Agriculture says it continues to examine any new science and can review import conditions at any time.
A spokesperson says it’s business as usual as the IRA review is taking place, and its outcomes will be considered when released.
A Senate committee report released in March stated the Department of Agriculture needed to take greater account of stakeholders’ ‘perceived risk’.
It also recommended setting up an independent statutory body for biosecurity and quarantine operations.
– ABC Rural