Border biosecurity boost to combat Khapra beetle threat

The Federal government has allocated an extra $14.5 million to help strengthen biosecurity measures at the country’s borders in the face of increased global detections of the Khapra beetle pest
The Khapra beetle is Australia’s number two National Priority Plant Pest and a high priority pest for our grains, nut and dried fruit industries

Internationally, Khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) is a serious pest of stored grains, rice, oilseeds and dried foodstuffs. In hot conditions, populations build up swiftly, causing significant losses to produce held in stores such as grain in silos. Infested stores also become contaminated with beetles and cast skins and hairs from larvae which can be a health risk.

If the beetle was to establish here, many of our trading partners would reject stored produce from Australia. Given that Australia exports much of the grain we grow, the beetle could cause huge losses, affecting Australia’s economy.

Khapra beetle can survive as a hitchhiker pest in sea containers for a number of years. Due to its small size, its ability to survive for extended periods without food and its preference for inhabiting crevices it can remain undetected under floors and in cracks and crevices in sea containers. When conditions are favourable beetle populations can quickly increase in size and can contaminate any goods held within the container. 

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said an outbreak of khapra beetle could conservatively cost Australia $15.5 billion over 20 years.

“It is a devastating pest of stored grains and dried foods,” Minister Littleproud said.

“However—like the brown marmorated stink bug—it has increasingly been found hitchhiking outside these food sources in containers and packaging.

“As a trading nation Australia cannot simply close its borders. Our biosecurity system must evolve and respond to changing risks.”

The government’s $14.5 million will be targeted at additional resources for containerised cargo inspections and investment in rapid diagnostic technology and capability, as well as targeted surveillance efforts at the border.

In addition, operational system enhancements will enable mandatory treatment of containers arriving from khapra affected countries.

Anyone wishing to report a biosecurity concern should go to: www.awe.gov.au/report or call 1800 798 636.

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