14 July 2022
Petition to
Hon Murray Watt (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry)
Signatures: 2,396Next goal: 2,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Helen Abebe

For as long as we can remember, Ethiopian & Eritrean traditional food has been ingrained in our community’s everyday lives and culture. Doro wot (Ethiopian/Eritrean Chicken stew), Injera (Ethiopian/ Eritrean Flat Bread), Shiro wot (chickpea paste) and other traditional cuisines with core ingredient of the notoriously spicy berbere that is made by mixing, roasting and grinding of various spices like chili,garlic, ginger and cinnamon are used to commemorate celebrations.

These foods are a crucial component of our culture because they provide us with a sense of belonging and assert the diversity of our community. This feeling of connection in turn creates a sense of pride and identity.

For over four decades, we have been bringing ingredients such as Berbere (roasted then milled chili pepper), Shiro (Roasted then milled Chickpea powder), and other spices, in order to prepare these special cuisines, preserve our culture and pass it on to the next generation.

Since last year, once Australian travel restrictions eased, we Ethiopians & Eritrean traveling back to Australia were encountered by Australian Food and security border protection officers inspecting our luggages.

They have discarded our traditional ingredients without any explanations at times, and sometimes by providing pamphlets for those who persistently enquire as to why these foods are now being thrown away after decades of permitted entry. The provided pamphlet explains the restriction of some food items to protect against the khapra beetle pest.
However, upon our research at  we identified our traditional foods are excluded from List of high risk goods for host of khapra beetle (

The exclusion in this link specifically states the below point which precisely describes the food items that most  Ethiopians & Eritrean are bringing to Australia..

The following exclusions apply: 

Commercially prepared and packaged goods that have been thermally processed so that the nature of the material has been transformed from their original raw form, such as retorted, blanched, roasted, fried, par-boiled, boiled, puffed, malted or pasteurised.

Goods that are commercially milled or ground to a powder, meal or flakes and packaged in bags less than or equal to 25kg.

In addition to the above, we have also found out Ethiopia is not added on the list of targeted risk countries for the Khapra beetle as shown below.

Hence, throwing away these traditional foods which are all been roasted and milled without any clear explanation or evidence of an applicable restriction policy, is unwarranted and highly distressful for our community.

Furthermore, Ethiopian & Eritrean passengers traveling with the same food items were treated differently, as some passengers were allowed to bring in these same goods while other passengers’ food were thrown away. This demonstrates a lack of consistency, as well as detailed knowledge on behalf of the Australian Health and Security Border Protection officers regarding the new restriction policy. This has in turn caused confusion among Ethiopians & Eritreans.

Berbere (roasted then milled chili pepper), Shiro (Roasted then milled Chickpea powder), and other spices are a typical Ethiopian & Eritrean family house hold staples. Therefore, not having easy access to these core ingredients will mean denying our children to experience and connect with their cultural food heritage.

According to Ernesto Otonne, Assistant Director-General for Culture UNESCO (2019), Strengthening cultural heritage and culture-related food practices boosts social inclusion, economic development and well-being.

Therefore, we request that the Australian Government lift this unwarranted restriction and allow all Ethiopian & Eritrean Australian community members to bring our precious and priceless traditional foods into our homes in Australia.

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Signatures: 2,396Next goal: 2,500
Support now