The program is the keystone of a five year project funded by a $4.4 million grant from The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
“The project will work with Pacific island governments to promote biological control of insect pests as part of an overall approach to sustainable agriculture,” he said.
“The production of high-value fruit and vegetable crops free from unsafe agrochemicals is a priority in many Pacific island countries.
“These chemicals can be expensive and often have adverse effects on the environment and human health.
The researchers will develop a regional ‘Plant Health Clinic’ program, which will train ministry and NGO extension staff to run clinics where farmers can have crop problems diagnosed and get advice on how to manage pests and diseases.
“This will increase the capacity of national ministries and help poor farmers deal with difficult production issues at a time when food security presents a serious problem,” Dr Furlong said.
UQ will partner on the project with regional organisation, Pacific Community, the agriculture ministries of Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga and the National Agricultural Research Institute in Papua New Guinea.
Source: University of Queensland