JUST days after the horticulture industry was rocked by the detection of citrus canker disease in the Northern Territory, a new disease has been detected.
Officials from the federal department of Department of Agriculture and Water Resources have confirmed that Huanglongbing – or citrus greening disease – had been confirmed on citrus budwood that was attempted to be illegally imported through Brisbane Airport.
A passenger tried to smuggle it into Australia using the inner tubing of a tyre.
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Australian chief plant protection officer, Dr Kim Ritman, said it was subsequently confirmed that the plant material was carrying Huanglongbing.
“It is also highly disappointing that the passenger is employed in a horticulture sector that was significantly impacted by the 2005 outbreak of citrus canker,” Dr Ritman said.
“If this disease was to arrive here, it could decimate our citrus tree population, meaning less produce for export and fewer home-grown oranges, mandarins and lemons on our supermarket shelves.
“In Florida, Huanglongbing has destroyed millions of citrus trees, devastated the citrus industry and led to massive yield losses for farmers.
“It is Australia’s fifth priority plant pest and there is currently no cure, so we definitely do not want passengers bringing this devastating disease here.”
Dr Ritman said biosecurity officers intercepted the risky material and the passenger was now the subject of enforcement action.