Multi-million dollar biosecurity project set to alleviate poverty 


The landmark signing of a recent multi-million dollar research contract is set to pave the way for a large-scale biosecurity project spanning Australia’s north and its neighbouring regions of eastern Indonesia.

The Northern Territory’s Charles Darwin University and the Cooperative Research Centre- National Plant Biosecurity have signed contracts to establish ways of managing plant pests and diseases at a regional and community level to alleviate poverty through food security.

The project, led by CDU’s Professor Ian Falk and Ruth Wallace, is trialing and developing community-based strategies for identifying and managing plant pests and diseases.

“Work has already occurred with communities in northern Australia, west Timor, Bali and Sulawesi, and in the next few years will expand to include the Great Papua and Nusa Tanagra Timor more broadly,” Professor Falk said.

Valued at $1 million a year until 2012, the project uses a partnership approach in both countries.

Professor Falk said the successful management of a biosecurity threat depended on the length of time between the initial occurrence and its subsequent identification and management.

“In northern Australia and the eastern regions of Indonesia, local community participation is a key driver in the management of pests and diseases, particularly as awareness and early reporting are important strategies in reducing the time taken to identify an incursion and minimise its impacts,” he said.

“In eastern Indonesia, the most important outcome of the improved identification and management of plant pests and diseases is poverty alleviation through food and income security.

“Better food and income security depends on improving the food and crops which are directly affected by plant pests and diseases.”