VEGETABLE growers will reap the rewards of a $16.6 million five-year project to improve the resilience of crops from the impacts of viral and bacterial diseases.
This project will develop an area wide management strategy to address high priority viral and bacterial diseases affecting vegetable crops.
The Hort Innovation project could deliver real options to control plant diseases.
Queensland’s agriculture and fisheries department leads the national project with financial support from Hort Innovation and state and territory agencies.
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“Area wide management has historically been applied effectively to the management of insect pests but also has potential for controlling plant diseases,” agricultural industry development minister Mark Furner said.
“Pests such as aphids, thrips and whitefly will be targeted by the project while crops identified for research include potato, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin, celery, carrot, cabbage, capsicum, Asian vegetables and lettuce.
“The major benefits to industry will be sustainable disease management through the strategic and lowered use of pesticides, innovative use of biological control agents and the protection of important host genetics including resistance genes to combat disease.
“By the time this project ends in 2022, it is hoped it will have also developed effective, innovative and rapid diagnostics that improve the vegetable industry’s capacity to manage threats and help minimise or prevent economic losses from exotic diseases.”
Hort Innovation will provide more than $10.4 million in matched co-investment funding matching dollar-for-dollar contributions from DAF, the Victorian, Northern Territory and Western Australian governments and the University of Tasmania.
DAF and the other state and territory governments will contribute more than $6.1 million in in-kind support over the life of the project.”
Hort Innovation chief executive, John Lloyd, said the ambitious national project would support the sustainability of some of Australia’s favourite vegetables.
“Over recent years the vegetable industry has faced some crippling diseases - the Green Cucumber Mottle Mosaic Virus threatening capsicums, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash and lettuce in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland being one example,” he said.
“While incidences of disease in vegetable crops are rare, and do not pose a risk to human health, when an outbreak happens it can devastate growers.”
Mr Lloyd said Australia was one of the safest food suppliers in the world with strict protocols in place along all stages of the commercial supply chain.
“Australian produce enjoys a reputation for being some of the safest produce in the world. This new research project will only serve to support and enhance that reputation.”