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NZ to spend “some millions” to kiwifruit canker

NZ Govt expecting to commit “some millions” to kiwifruit canker

Nov. 15 (BusinessDesk) – Completely eradicating the recently discovered kiwifruit canker, Psa, looks increasingly unlikely, although the government expects it will need to commit “some millions of dollars” to what Agriculture Minister David Carter is describing as “aggressive containment.”

Vines in a 12 kilometre radius, near the country’s kiwifruit capital, Te Puke, are the initial target for any such aggressive containment programme, which would include controls on the movement of people and orchard equipment as well as movement, treatment, and in some cases destruction of vines and fruit.

With more than 30,000 samples taken from vines since the bio-security alert began on Friday of the week before last, it was becoming clear that there was a “growing number of infestations” which could make total eradication too difficult, said Carter, “although I don’t want to rule it out altogether.”

At this stage, it remains unclear which version of Psa is infesting New Zealand kiwifruit, with Japanese and Italian strains a possibility, along with the potential for a local strain to have developed.

It was also unclear whether Psa may have been present in New Zealand for some time without being noticed, in which case eradication would be all the more difficult.

Carter stressed that Japanese and Italian kiwifruit growers had been managing local strains of Psa successfully for many years, and that it did not spell the end for the industry.

Carter said both the industry and the government would inevitably end up committing substantial sums to deal with the problem. While the government would move more quickly than the 13 weeks it took the previous administration to decide a plan to contain the bee-killing varroa mite, it was important to spend enough time to work up a solid response to Psa.

“It’s a fluid and fast-changing situation,” said Carter.

Officials would brief him next on the situation on Wednesday this week.

Meanwhile, an update from the monopoly kiwifruit exporter Zespri confirms that 14 orchards have been issued with a ‘restricted place notice’; a total of 41 orchards have been tested, with 11 positive for Psa, 28 negative, and two pending. The 11 positive orchards are in the Te Puke region, while the 28 with negative results include properties in the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and Kerikeri.

(BusinessDesk)

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