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Hortresearch Urges Grower Commitment

3 April 2002

The pressure is building from growers for a Level 3 Post Entry Quarantine facility (PEQ) for importing new varieties of kiwifruit, apples, pears, stonefruit, berries, grapes, olives and woody ornamentals. At a meeting at MAF in Wellington on 25 March, industry groups signalled their intention to petition the Minister for Biosecurity, Jim Sutton, to urge the Government to pay for and run the quarantine facility.

HortResearch, a Crown Research Institute, is planning to develop a facility, which it needs for its own breeding programmes, and is willing to provide a larger national facility providing it can get a commitment from outside users to justify the $500,000 capital investment required.

As a leading breeder of pipfruit, kiwifruit, berryfruit and stonefruit HortResearch is concerned that its breeding programmes are being disadvantaged because it cannot import budwood from countries that do not have quarantine facilities accredited by NZ’s MAF biosecurity arm. The PEQ 3 facility has been planned for some years for its Hawke’s Bay Research Centre in Havelock North.

Pipfruit portfolio manager, Allan White, said, “We can have a PEQ 3 facility up and running within three months. We have the trained staff available to test imported plant material, the specific equipment for virus testing and we only need to construct the containment building and complete the registration of the laboratories and staff.

“HortResearch’s proposed facility is the logical choice for growers. We have an advantage because we already have the specialists and the space. We have done most of the preparation work including setting up the protocols for MAF approval and we have an attractive pricing structure. I believe we are the only organisation considering a PEQ facility that would be able to start up in time for the next season of importing in September.”

Allan White said, “The PEQ 3 facility could handle 100 imports per year at a maximum charge of $5000 per accession. I believe this level of use and the pricing are realistic. What we need is an undertaking from major growers or industry groups that they can commit to this programme.”

An accredited high health scheme is also being set up at the new $6.5m Hawke’s Bay Research Centre, which will allow the testing of plant material and its disease-free certification to a standard recognised by other countries. The certification opens the way for easier export of plant material from New Zealand.

Level 3 facilities require plants to be held in quarantine for a minimum of two years when they are tested for pests, diseases and viruses. Virus testing has to be carried out over two seasons and plants usually have to be held in an area that is insect proof and with restricted access.

New Zealand only has one very small PEQ 3 facility in Lincoln, owed by another CRI, Crop and Food Research. It handles field crops and vegetables.


Ends

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