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Plant post-entry quarantine facility in PN

Plant post-entry quarantine facility to go ahead in Palmerston North

The HortResearch Board approved on Tuesday the construction of a level three post-entry quarantine facility (L3 PEQ) in Palmerston North on the HortResearch campus.

Work will begin on the facility in December and is expected to be completed by February next year. MAF has approved the proposal in principle and set the standards for formal accreditation of the facility and operational protocols.

Construction costs have been estimated at $450,000, which will be spent on conversion of an existing glasshouse so it meets the requirements for the level three facility.

Previously, HortResearch was considering building the facility at its Hawke's Bay site but it was more cost-effective to modify the existing building in Palmerston North.

Initially, the facility will process accessions from the viticulture, pipfruit and kiwifruit industries but other plant types will be considered. Level three facilities require plants to be held in quarantine for a minimum of two years when they are tested for pests, diseases and viruses.

There is only one other level three facility of the type in New Zealand, which serves the viticulture industry only.

HortResearch Chief Executive Paul McGilvary said, "A L3 PEQ facility means we can open up the way for industry to import plant varieties from all countries directly. Currently in New Zealand, we can only import directly from France, Switzerland, Canada and the United States. So this facility is sorely overdue. It will also discourage the illegal importation of material. Our L3 PEQ is the answer for industry and our own requirements."

Growers and industry groups were pleased that at last the L3 PEQ facility is to be a reality. Philip Manson, Science and Innovations Manager at NZ Winegrowers, said, "My reaction to the news is one of relief. Now we will have open access for all our members to a level three facility, which is so important for planning and development."

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