of China Australia Food Security Cooperation Initiative (CAFSCI)

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Quarantine decision support and training aids for China and Australia

Overview of Project

Movement of agricultural and forestry products has increased dramatically after reform of the marketing system in China, resulting in higher quarantine risks. To reduce these risks, quarantine services are being upgraded and a new training centre established in China. Due to the large numbers of quarantine officers involved, training aids are urgently required.

The main aim of the initial project was to develop a series of computer based modules to provide distance learning and decision support tools for use by quarantine officers concerned with domestic quarantine issues. In May 2000, this project was extended to achieve two further objectives - to develop a similar training and decision support system for use by quarantine officers concerned with international quarantine issues, and to upgrade the domestic quarantine product to improve its quality and user-friendliness."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project resulted in the production of a prototype CD-ROM in Mandarin. The CD consists of five modules, including -

Basic information and tutorials This module, which is organised in the form of a hierarchy of headings, consists of numerous pages of text and images covering the following components:

laws and regulation for plant quarantine;

basic knowledge including texts and images of quarantine pests, including insects, bacteria, viruses, pathogens, nematodes and weeds;

operational information, particularly concerning treatment methods for quarantine pests.

Quarantine quiz This quiz section allows the plant quarantine officers using the CD to test their information and knowledge concerning major quarantine aspects, including their ability to diagnose and deal with plant quarantine problems. The quiz is divided into subject topics and once an answer has been provided to a question, the user is given immediate feedback. Once all the questions on a topic have been answered, the user can review all of the questions and answers.

LucID keys LucID technology, developed in Australia by the University of Queensland, is a world leader in presenting and processing diagnostic information. Four interactive keys for pest identification are included in this section. There is a key to 31 Orders of insects, another to plant quarantine insect pests in China, another to plant quarantine diseases in China and the fourth to plant quarantine weeds in China. All four keys have images and text on the character states used for identification as well as text and images that provide further details on each of the taxa included in the keys.

Species fact sheets (species information) The fact sheets for the 34 quarantine species included in the LucID keys can also be accessed directly through this module. Each fact sheet for a particular quarantine pest includes information on scientific and common names, host range, damage caused by the pest and the symptoms caused, morphological characters, biology, methods and pathway of spread, plant quarantine surveillance methods and control practices. There are numerous images for a number of these pests, illustrating the aspects above, and a map showing the distribution of the quarantine pest in China.

Videos Two videos are included in the CD. Video 1 shows symptoms and methods for diagnosing bacterial diseases, while Video 2 shows fumigation practices for eliminating pests from shipping containers.

The prototype CD has already been used in training courses for domestic quarantine officers held at Zhejiang University and plans are being developed to produce a final version of the product for distribution throughout China. Because the CD is in Mandarin it has potential value for most domestic quarantine officers throughout China.

As trade within China increases and there are greater exports (particularly as a result of China’s involvement in the World Trade Organisation), the need for improved quarantine practice will increase, as will the potential benefit of this product. The additional activities that commenced in May 2000 will lead to further development of the training and decision support software to cover international quarantine.

The system can be adapted for other countries. Thailand and Malaysia, on seeing a presentation about development of decision support systems and training aids to quarantine in China and Australia, expressed strong interest in having the system modified to meet their own needs."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 2003


University of Queensland - Australia
Zhejiang Agricultural University - Department of Plant Protection - China


Professor Geoff Norton


Launch Website