A National Management Group (NMG) met on 11 August 2011 to discuss the detection of Cocoa pod borer (Conopomorpha cramerella) on a single cocoa plantation north of Cairns in Queensland. The Group agreed to a nationally cost-shared response program to eradicate this plant pest.
The NMG decision to implement an eradication program is based on advice from the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP)—a coordinating body which provides technical advice during plant health emergencies—that it is technically feasible and economically beneficial to eradicate the pest.
The response is to be implemented under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) - a legally binding agreement between the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, national plant industry body signatories and Plant Health Australia.
Cocoa pod borer, also known as cocoa moth, is a major pest of cocoa plantations in south east Asia and the Pacific. The borer decreases crop yield in cocoa and has the potential to reduce rambutan fruit production. The cocoa and rambutan industries are small niche industries in Far North Queensland extending from north of the Daintree to south of Tully.
The borer was first detected on the cocoa plantation in April 2011. It is not known how the pest entered Australia.
Quarantine measures are already in place at the property, including restricting the movement of plant materials, equipment and vehicles to prevent spread of the pest. There have been no detections of the borer on nearby properties. Surveillance on other cocoa and rambutan plantations in far north Queensland continues.
The Cocoa Pod Borer NMG is comprised of the Chief Executive Officers, or their delegates, of national and state/territory departments of agriculture/primary industries across Australia, and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Representatives of Plant Health Australia also attend but have no voting rights. The group is chaired by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The CCEPP is comprised of the Commonwealth Chief Plant Protection Officer, state and territory Chief Plant Health Managers, and nominated representatives of affected industry parties as required.
While the cocoa and rambutan industries are not party to the EPPRD, they are being consulted to ensure robust biosecurity measures are put in place to eradicate this pest.
Further information on Cocoa pod borer can be found on the Biosecurity Queensland website.