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Additional fruit fly treatment for tomatoes

8 May 2001

Additional fruit fly treatment for tomatoes from Australia possible

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is considering a proposal to allow an additional treatment based on the "systems approach" for tomatoes imported from Australia which, among other things, will reduce the likelihood of Queensland fruit fly being introduced here.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (AFFA) made the proposal on 2 May 2001. Once details of the system's components are supplied, the New Zealand Vegetable and Potato Growers Federation (VegFed) will be given the opportunity to comment.

The Australian treatment proposal, which will include mandatory field control (verified by inspection) in addition to the current mandatory post harvest chemical (dimethoate) dip/drench, should compensate for the need to test the chemical absorption characteristics of individual tomato varieties prior to approving importation. This will enable Australian producers to grow the latest varieties for the New Zealand market.

Currently chemical treatment is done for five approved tomato varieties imported to New Zealand from Australia. The new proposal will bring in a treatment system for all Australian tomatoes, regardless of variety.

Richard Ivess, MAF's Director of Plants Biosecurity said the Ministry is satisfied that the proposed system would not jeopardise New Zealand's plant health status provided that appropriate controls were in place, and the addition of the mandatory field control would in fact increase security.

AFFA would be accountable for the entire system including documentation of the system, grower registration,field treatment, audit for efficacy of field treatment, chemical treatment, post treatment security and AFFA inspection and audit compliance. Additionally, the bulk of exports to New Zealand would be during winter when the climatic conditions would not be conducive to the establishment of Queensland fruit fly.

Mr Ivess said that if the proposed system stacks up then the Ministry would have no choice but to accept it.

"New Zealand has obligations under the WTO SPS Agreement and the International Plant Protection Convention to consider new proposals and if technically justified, implement them as appropriate.

"The Australian proposal would allow new varieties of tomatoes to be imported into New Zealand, but the volumes brought in will depend on New Zealand importers."

Mr Ivess said Australia's request for different measures to be put in place was routine for exporting countries including New Zealand.

"The proposed system, which would enable any variety of tomato to be imported, would bring the existing measures (variety basis) into line with other imported produce," he said.

In 1988, the then Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries implemented offshore treatments for pests of major quarantine concern. This included fruit fly on tomatoes intended for export to New Zealand.

Since 1994, approximately 1.97 million cartons of tomatoes have been imported into New Zealand without any indication of the presence of Queensland fruit fly.

For further information contact: Richard Ivess, MAF Director, Plants Biosecurity on 04-474-4127 or Gita Parsot, MAF Communications on 04-4989-806


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