STAFF at an Australian biosecurity-registered warehouse in Western Australia detected khapra beetle in imported flat cardboard packaging.
Agriculture minister David Littleproud said the cardboard where the pest was detected was new and was not subject to biosecurity control. But, because of the biosecurity knowledge of the staff, the discovery was reported immediately.
“The warehouse staff are trained in biosecurity risks and recently received training in the risks of khapra beetle. The goods and the container were then isolated in a dedicated biosecurity area and were inspected and treated,” he said.
“The staff have my utmost respect – their actions protect the livelihoods of hardworking Australian farming families. And they protect the integrity of Australian trade and our reputation for premium produce that is in demand across the globe.”
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said that unchecked, this pest could devastate Australia’s $7 billion grain export industry.
“Strong biosecurity protects our $61-billion agriculture industries and the $53 billion it returns to the national bottom line each year though exports,” he said.
“It’s a big job—and a shared responsibility. No one group can do this alone.”
Minister Littleproud said an outbreak of khapra beetle, which is not established in Australia, could conservatively cost Australia $15.5 billion over 20 years.
“In the last 12 months, there has been a concerning increase in khapra beetle interceptions detected at our border, including in situations where it has hitchhiked on sea containers rather than in the imported goods,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Hitchhiker pests, such as khapra beetle, are increasing due to climate change, changing trade patterns, supply chain complexity and poor global shipping container hygiene.
“That is why we made a $14.5 million investment in December 2020 to strengthen khapra biosecurity measures at the border and invested a further $400 million in the recent budget.
“It’s vital that industry and community support this work and report any pests of concern.”
Khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) is a pernicious pest and is not present in Australia, according to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. It feeds directly on grain and dry food stuffs and can significantly damage them.