Review of biosecurity import requirements for fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) has completed the review of biosecurity import requirements for fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam.
There were three principal steps in the review:
Final Report - Pests of quarantine concern
The final report for the risk analysis for fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam identifies seven pests of quarantine concern which require risk management measures. All of these pests are arthropods.
The seven arthropods are:
- Guava fruit fly (Bactocera correcta)
- Melon fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae)
- Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis)
- Coffee mealybug (Planococcus lilacinus)
- Pacific mealybug (Planococcus minor)
- Jack Beardsley mealybug (Pseudococcus jackbeardsleyi)
- Grey pineapple mealybug (Dysmicoccus neobrevipes)
Recommended risk management measures
The report recommends a range of risk management measures, combined with operational systems, to reduce the biosecurity risk of importing fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam, including:
- area freedom or vapour heat treatment for fruit flies
- consignment freedom verified by visual inspection and, if detected, remedial action for the mealybugs.
Regional differences for Australian states and territories
One out of the seven pests identified, the Pacific mealybug, has been identified as a pest of regional concern for Western Australia. The recommended risk management measures take account of this regional difference.
The recommendations in the final report are an administrative step and reflect the completion of the risk analysis for dragon fruit from Vietnam. There are a number of other steps to be completed before imports can commence:
- The department will verify that Vietnam can action the recommended risk management measures.
- Import conditions will be published on the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON). Interested stakeholders can register in the BICON system and receive an alert when the case is updated.
- Import permits would need to be issued for trade to commence. A decision to import fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam into Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in Vietnam who can meet the import conditions.
Meeting Australia's food laws
All food sold in Australia must satisfy Australia’s food laws. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, adheres to the food laws of each state and territory, and meets the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.
The department liaised with stakeholders to address any concerns and provide information about the process. Five submissions on the draft report were considered in the preparation of the final report.
A number of changes to the risk analysis report were made following consideration of stakeholder comments on the draft report and a subsequent review of the literature.
These changes include:
- amendments to the text in Appendix A for several pests to improve clarity
- the addition of Appendix B ‘Issues raised in stakeholder comments’ which summarises key stakeholders comments and how they were considered in the final report
- minor corrections, rewording and editorial changes for consistency, clarity and web accessibility.
Key technical issues raised in the submissions are shown in Appendix B, located at the back of the final report.
Note that if new scientific information becomes available, it can be provided to the department for consideration after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider information provided and can change import requirements based on new scientific information.
Contact Plant Biosecurity or phone +61 2 6272 5094.
Vietnam's dragon fruit production
Vietnam is a large commercial producer of dragon fruit, with 80-86 per cent of fruit destined for export. In 2015, Vietnam exported almost one million tonne of dragon fruit, mostly to the US, the Netherlands, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Singapore.
The production of dragon fruit in Vietnam occurs mainly in the Southern Provinces of Binh Thuan, Long An, Tien Giang, Kien Giang, Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh, however the majority of production is concentrated in Binh Thuan, Long An, Tien Giang. The peak harvest season for Vietnam is between May to September.
Australia's dragon fruit production
In Australia, the dragon fruit industry is a small specialised industry. The Northern Territory is the largest producer, with its largest single-season crop of 78 tonne in December 2015. Dragon fruit is also grown in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales.
The main harvest period for dragon fruit in the Northern Territory is September to March/April, and in Queensland is January to May/June.
Review of biosecurity import requirements
A review of biosecurity import requirements is a process used by the department to consider an import proposal when most of the potential quarantine pests of concern identified are the same as or similar to quarantine pests for which import policies currently exist.
The analysis considers the risks of pests and diseases associated with the proposed import along with any sanitary and phytosanitary measures that could address these risks.
Australia has existing import policy for seeds (for sowing) and nursery stock for some varieties of dragon fruit and also other tropical fruit for human consumption from Vietnam and some other Asian countries. Research identified that the majority of pests associated with fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam, are the same as or similar to those previously assessed.
If the risks posed by an import proposal exceed the appropriate level of protection for Australia, the analysis will specify that the import will not proceed, unless appropriate measures have been identified that will reduce those risks to an acceptable level.
Considerations during a review of biosecurity import requirements
All World Trade Organization (WTO) members are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), under which they have both rights and obligations.
The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:
- be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organization for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention
- only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
- be based on science
- not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.
Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory – in other words, its appropriate level of protection.
Appropriate level of protection
The appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as: a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero.
This definition has been reached with the agreement of all state and territory governments and recognises that a zero risk stance is impractical because this would mean Australia would have no tourists, no international travel and no imports.
The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.
The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.
Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.
A risk analysis is an examination of the potential biosecurity risks associated with an import of animals, plants or other goods into Australia. It plays an important role in protecting Australia’s biosecurity.
If the assessed level of biosecurity risk exceeds the ALOP for Australia, the department will consider whether there are any risk management measures that would reduce the biosecurity risk to achieve the ALOP. If there are no risk management measures that reduce the risk to that level, trade will not be allowed.
New scientific information
Scientific information can be provided to the department at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider the information provided and will review the import policy.
Protecting Australia from exotic pests
A comprehensive risk assessment of pests and diseases has been undertaken and risk management options have been recommended to address any risks of exotic pests and diseases. Any recommended measures will reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.
Zero risk is impossible; it would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed to the lowest possible level.
Australia exports almost two thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agriculture and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain a good plant and animal health status.
Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia.
For more information, stakeholders can email Plant Biosecurity or phone +61 2 6272 5094.