Tackling Phylloxera Program
The Victorian wine industry accounts for 20% of the national grape crush, 19% of production volume and 11% of wine exports. In 2015, the industry, from vineyard to glass, contributed an estimated $7.6 billion direct effect to the Victorian economy, providing nearly 13,000 jobs. This extends to approximately $13.3 billion in value when downstream effects are included.
However, the industry is facing many challenges such as:
- climate change
- rising water costs
- heightened biosecurity risks from pests such as phylloxera
A prominent issue and industry priority is ongoing management of the biosecurity challenge posed by phylloxera. Grape phylloxera is the number one threat to grapevines in Australia. It is a very small, yellow insect that feeds on the roots and sometimes the leaves of grapevines. Feeding by phylloxera can damage a susceptible grapevine's root system to such an extent that the plant may die.
Recent outbreaks have resulted in lost markets and additional certification and management requirements for affected regions. This imposes significant costs to affected growers and impacts supply chain efficiency across all regions. Importantly, long-term impacts result in the loss of productivity and ultimate replacement of vines.
Moreover, detections outside of existing Phylloxera Infested Zones (PIZ) can lead to further extensions of existing PIZs or the creation of new PIZs (under the current national protocol, a PIZ requires a 5 kilometre buffer). This can result in many affected growers being subject to additional regulatory requirements and associated costs.
Victorian Wine Strategy 2017-2021
The Victorian Wine Strategy 2017-2021 is a five-year plan to support the wine industry improve its long-term performance and prosperity. Jointly developed by the Wine Industry Ministerial Advisory Committee (Wine Mac) and Victorian Government, it strives to deliver a state wine industry that is more profitable, coordinated, skilled and knowledgeable.
The strategy is structured around four key platforms, which address:
- adaptation to business and production challenges
- increasing tourist numbers and expenditure in Victorian wine regions
- developing profitable and sustainable export markets
- increasing industry coordination.
The four platforms are interlinked and designed to position the industry for future success.
Investment has been received from the Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund (AIJF) – Program Stream to meet the business and production challenges identified in the strategy.
AIJF is the Victorian Government's commitment to farmers and agribusinesses to strengthen the performance and resilience of the agriculture sector. It is a key component of the Government's strategic direction to drive economic growth, create jobs and boost exports.
$1 million has been provided via the AIJF to fund the Tackling Phylloxera Program - a state wide project that aims to address the biosecurity challenges posed by phylloxera, improve productivity and allow for more efficient supply chains.
The program has two key objectives:
- To empower and galvanise grape growers to manage phylloxera on-farm using only best practice measures.
- For government to collaborate with the wine industry to deliver sustainable and long-term improvements to the current phylloxera management program which is administered by Agriculture Victoria.
There are six projects funded by the $1 million investment:
- To develop and adopt innovative, science based protocols and procedures to enable rapid and accurate phylloxera diagnostics.
- To develop a strategic long-term plan for phylloxera management in Victoria.
- To explore the barriers to grower, and associated supply chain participants' adoption of best practice phylloxera management.
- To undertake a state wide awareness program aimed at improving business adoption of on-farm biosecurity best practice measures.
- To undertake a review of the alignment of the Victorian Viticulture Biosecurity Committee with industry expectations and ensure that these closely align to the core objectives the Wine Ministerial Advisory Committee (WineMAC).
- To undertake vineyard inspections to enable gazettal of the Mornington Peninsula region as a Phylloxera Exclusion Zone (PEZ) and have the region recognised as such by industry and trading partners.
Identifying amenity vines in the region is an important aspect of the vineyard inspection process. For more information on the significance of amenity vines in the fight against phylloxera, please watch the following video.
Although separate, these projects have natural synergies that perform in combination to deliver a holistic approach to better phylloxera management in Victoria's grape growing regions. Anticipated long-term benefits of the program include:
- reduced phylloxera spread in Victoria as a result of enhanced uptake of on-farm best practice phylloxera management measures
- reduced economic and regulatory burden on industry
- improved market access through enhanced on-farm biosecurity measures to contain and prevent further spread of phylloxera to other regions
- increased industry participation and support in coordinating the management of phylloxera in their regions, including support for other rezoning programs
- improve phylloxera management through the implementation of innovative technologies that enable rapid and accurate phylloxera diagnostics
- increased state wide awareness of phylloxera as a major biosecurity threat
- reduced regulatory burden on growers in the Mornington Peninsula region.
The Tackling Phylloxera Program is expected to close by June 2020.
Victorian Viticulture Biosecurity Committee (VVBC)
The Victorian Viticulture Biosecurity Committee (VVBC) is a collaborative venture between Agriculture Victoria and key stakeholders in the viticulture industries, including the wine grape, table grape and dried fruit industries, plus the nursery and vine improvement sectors.
The VVBC has a new website that contains a wealth of biosecurity information for viticulture industries in Victoria, and provides a forum for exchanging ideas and expressing opinions. A fundamental role for the new website is to gather and distribute targeted vine health information to the Victorian industry, and provide timely, accurate updates on the progress of the Tackling Phylloxera Program.