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Western Australia potato growers win 25-year battle with pest
By Alex Hyman
After a battle lasting almost 25 years WA’s $45 million potato industry was yesterday declared free of the devastating potato cyst nematode.
In 1986 Potato Cyst Nematode was detected on six properties out of Perth, putting a block on the export of WA potatoes to lucrative Asian markets.
Now, in what’s believed to be a world first, Western Australia has eliminated the pest and has been reinstated as a potato cyst nematode free area.
This area freedom recognition is hoped to give the WA potato industry a marketing boost and open up previously inaccessible markets.
It’s expected to give the potato seed export industry a boost with projections that trade could more than triple in years ahead
Agriculture Minister Terry Redman says the announcement opens up big opportunities for the WA potato industry.
“We have got area freedom from potato cyst nematode in Western Australia.”
“That means that some markets that would not have otherwise taken our potatoes from Western Australia on the basis of not being are free from PCN, will now be able to take our product.”
“It is significant for Western Australia, for the international markets and market access to that.”
Shashi Sharma is the Director of Plant Biosecurity with the Department for Agriculture.
He says that sound science was the basis for proving that WA was free from potato cyst nematode.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some other countries in the world who would like to follow the methodology and who would like the systems that we have implemented here and so it provides us with that scientific edge as well.”
“We always talk about our very robust science that underpins our biosecurity policy and operations and this is one of the examples.”
“We believe that our biosecurity policies and operations and regulations are based on very robust science. It’s a requirement that our policies and regulations have to be science based and they can be challenged anytime and we have to prove that what we have done is right.”
Darrell Smith is a potato farmer from Busselton and the President of the WA potato growers association.
He says the area freedom status will open up new markets and reduce costs for potato farmers.
In this report: Minister for Agriculture Terry Redman
Shashi Sharma, Director of Plant Biosecurity with the Department for Agriculture
Darrell Smith, potato farmer and the President of the WA Potato Growers Association
The Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals, are attempting to create a large network of Agri-business Professionals in India and other SAARC countries with a view to enhancing the rural incomes in India by enabling access to appropriate agricultural technologies and market intelligence to the masses living in the hinterlands of India. Given the size and spread of the Indian agricultural sector, the country needs around 50,000 Agribusiness Clinics. This Project aims at establishing the basic mechanism that would facilitate establishing such Agri-clinics by motivated agricultural graduates on self-sustainable basis. This Project will establish the knowledge network, will identify the agri-graduate interested in starting Agri-Clinics, will train them and will provide the information products and services to their agri-clinics on an ongoing basis. Thus the concept of Agribusiness clinics becomes scalable and could expand till it reaches every major village in the country. The population of experts is estimated to be of the order of 5,000 and the target is to have at least 25% on the panel within 2 years. The professionals can be unemployed graduates, progressive farmers, manufacturers, service providers, buyers and customers of agricultural products and services.