::: Article ABC Radio :::
Cultural festivals pose biosecurity risk
As Australia celebrates more cultural festivals, there's an increased threat to biosecurity as pest-carrying foods and plants are sent from abroad.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry says that the highest risk items are seeds and items that could be fed to, or injected into, animals.
The Department issues biosecurity information before such festivals as Lunar New Year, Easter, Christmas and Rakhi.
The Indian festival of Rakhi often sees family members sending each other sweets, seeds and plants.
First Assistant Secretary of DAFF's Border Compliance Division, Tim Chapman says that it's more likely people will send gifts into Australia during such festivals. He says that, during the Rakhi festival, a lot of Indian sweets are posted into Australia.
"We know that a single sweet coming through probably isn't going to cause a pest or disease outbreak," he says. "But the larger the quantity that comes through, the greater the potential risk is. So what we're trying to do is minimise [risks] as best we can without having a completely over-the-top approach to it."
DAFF distributes biosecurity information through media releases, and community newspapers and radio stations.
"We've found by just taking this education approach to it and giving people more information, we've seen a significant reduction in risk articles coming through the mail or being brought through by passengers," says Chapman.
"Most people do want to do the right thing because it's important to the country and we're just trying to help them do that," he says.
Vivid Shah's and Kiran Prajapati's solution to the problem of delivering Rakhi gifts in Australia was to set up a website which allows people outside Australia to buy gifts here and have them delivered locally.
Tim Chapman, First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Border Compliance Division; Vividh Shah and Kiran Prajapati, founders of rakhi.com.au
Producer: Matthew Crawford
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