Biosecurity and Trade

Biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach to analyzing and managing relevant risks to human, animal and plant life and health and associated risks to the environment. Interest in biosecurity has risen considerably over the last decade in parallel with increasing trade in food, plant and animal products, more international travel, new outbreaks of transboundary disease affecting animals, plants and people, heightened awareness of biological diversity and greater attention to the environment and the impact of agriculture on environmental sustainability.

Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTSs) need to position themselves to take advantage of trading opportunities, while protecting their natural resource base from potential risks.
Fiji taro examined for insect infestation and nematode sampling
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 13:15

Fiji is currently the main exporter of taro to Australia and New Zealand. However, the  opportunity to improve rural livelihoods through exports of this commodity is being limited by consignments that are of poor quality or are contaminated with pests of quarantine concern detected on arrival at export destinations.

In an attempt to identify on-site insect infestation and rotting of taro corms, Secretariat of the Pacific Community Weed Biocontrol Technician Ana Tunabuna and Fiji Ministryof Agriculture Technical Officer, Unaisi Turaganivalu travelled to Taveuni Island to further assess taro grading and packaging techniques used by Taveuni taro farmers and exporters,  as well as transportation and grading procedures. Soil samples were also collected from 10 taro farms in Tabakau, Vuna, Delaivuna and Navakawau villages for nematodes to provide insight on the type of nematodes and organisms present in the taro fields. The samples are currently being processed at Fiji’s Ministry of Agricultures Koronivia Research Station.

The team identified evidence of mealybugs on some taro and gathered samples of insects found on taro for further tests. Reduced corm sizes were found to be largely due to early harvesting before full maturity of the taro. Most farmers were experiencing extreme corm rot and resorted to early harvesting as means of prevention resulting in reduced corm size.

In addition, the team took sample of the crates to be trialed for transporting taro from farmers to packaging houses to find the number of corms that would fit inside it. They found that it could hold about 16 taro corms and weighed an average of 22.55kg.

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