Date Posted

6 October, 2016

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Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has announced the appointment of Dr Andrew Ward to lead the organisation’s Biosecurity division after an extensive and transparent recruitment process.

Dr Ward comes to the position from being Leader, Plant Health, with SRA and he has significant experience in diverse agricultural industries, including sugarcane.

SRA CEO Mr Neil Fisher said that Dr Ward was an experienced scientist in Queensland, NSW, the Northern Territory, and internationally, and that he was ideally placed to lead this critical focus area for SRA research investment.

“The Australian sugar industry has placed plant biosecurity as one of its top priorities for investment from SRA,” Mr Fisher said. “Diseases, pests and weeds represent a significant threat to the ongoing viable production of Australian sugarcane.

“SRA’s research investment into biosecurity is the frontline of protecting the industry from external threats that exist in foreign industries, including our nearby northern neighbouring countries. SRA also plays a vital role in researching and managing the threats that already exist within the Australian sugarcane industry,” Mr Fisher said.

“The research effort into sugarcane smut over the last 20 years is an example of the value of biosecurity research investment for sugarcane growers and millers. Preparation for the risk of smut began 10 years prior to its actual incursion in 2006, and those early preparedness measures were a valuable insurance policy as the industry transitioned to smut-resistant sugarcane varieties after smut was discovered in 2006.”

Mr Fisher said the role of Focus Area Leader – Pest, Disease and Weed Manager involved close cooperation with State and Federal Governments, and it also collaborates very closely with other SRA research activities including plant breeding, farming systems and production management, and soil health and nutrient management.

Dr Ward has also recently helped guide important research activities including preparation for exotic threats such as moth borers, as well as existing Australian pests such as cane grubs, and soldier fly.

“Dr Ward will continue to manage these research activities with SRA’s experienced team of researchers,” Mr Fisher said.

Dr Ward said he looked forward to leading SRA’s biosecurity activities for the industry.

“Biosecurity risks can cause hundreds of millions of damage to agricultural industries. For the Australian sugarcane industry, SRA’s research programs through biosecurity, and its linkages with other research, is critical to ensuring the ongoing success of the Australian sugarcane industry,” Dr Ward said.

Media contact: SRA Brad Pfeffer 0419 175 815 or Dr Andrew Ward 0401 564 312.

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