Ginger industry body calls for halt on imports

A FURIOUS Australian Ginger Industry Association has called on the Federal Government to halt the importation of Fijian ginger, which was given the green light this month in spite of advice from its own Senate Committee.

Ginger is a growth primary industry in the Gympie region, a region that has one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, but local growers fear the decision to allow imports will impact heavily on them, costing jobs and jeopardising biosecurity.

The AGIA wants the government to conduct urgent testing on the Fijian roundworm that could hitch a ride on the imports and wipe out local ginger, banana, pineapple, citrus and potato crops.

Although the Department of Agriculture will require Fijian ginger imports to be free of soil and to be fumigated with the surface spray methyl bromide, the Senate Committee warned there was "limited effectiveness of methyl bromide treatment when the Fijian burrowing nematode variant is resident inside ginger rhizomes".

The committee also found mitigation measures "do not guarantee elimination" of the roundworm and that quarantine "inspections will not detect nematodes resident inside the ginger".

"We're furious," AGIA chair Anthony Rehbein said.

"The Federal Government has just snubbed its nose at science, and left farmers out to dry.

The government has admitted it has no scientifically-proven way to treat or prevent an outbreak of the Fijian round worm, which literally demolishes ginger within weeks.

"It's a devastating pest and Australia's just opened its doors to it.

"Barnaby Joyce has just rushed this through to meet some Free Trade deadline.

"We're realistic; we know we can't fight free trade, but we don't expect this government to knowingly put our industry at risk because they're too cheap to invest in proper science."

Gympie Times

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