Benchmarking study to assess vegetable industry biosecurity awareness and preparedness (VG12085)
What was it all about?
Growers and others in the vegetable industry have a key role to play in protecting their businesses and the industry from plant pests and diseases. This project explored the understanding of biosecurity among vegetable industry stakeholders, and assessed attitudes towards recommended biosecurity practices. The relationship between these attitudes and demographic factors was also investigated, providing a benchmark that any improvements can be compared against.
The study began with a review of information about biosecurity in the vegetable industry from the past five years. Researchers collected information from governments, biosecurity reports, websites such as farmbiosecurity.com.au and reviews. Consultations were also held with key industry groups across the country.
Next, the research team designed surveys to find out about knowledge, practices, values and beliefs about biosecurity from respondents from four stakeholder groups:
- Vegetable growers
- Service providers, this included agronomists, vegetable production field officers, extension providers both private and government, seed suppliers and nursery operators
- Transport companies
- Vegetable wholesalers and retailers.
The surveys were completed in the second half of 2013, and a large amount of data was collected.
A major finding of the project was that, for many vegetable industry stakeholders, biosecurity is driven by the need to achieve some form of certification or Quality Assurance program, predominantly Freshcare. As a result, many survey respondents found meeting the requirements to be expensive, and overall held negative attitudes to biosecurity.
Researchers concluded that although the importance of biosecurity to the vegetable industry is understood, individuals do not always appreciate the importance of biosecurity for their own businesses – representing a potential barrier to the adoption of sound biosecurity practices.
Other key findings included:
- Many growers and service providers (including agronomists, seed suppliers and field officers) did not put in place sufficient farm biosecurity measures, even though the majority indicated that vehicles and machinery were moved between farms, posing a risk
- The most common biosecurity activity undertaken is pest surveillance
- Cost pressure was rated the most important barrier to adoption of biosecurity practices and procedures across all stakeholder groups
- Respondents from the transport industry were not aware that they too have a role to play in vegetable industry biosecurity
- Signs to inform visitors of their obligations and to control on-farm movements are not widely used on farms.
Find out about the simple measures that can be put in place to protect your business at the Farm Biosecurity website
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation
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