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Kiwifruit Industry Has Not Fully Recovered After PSA

Kiwifruit Industry Has Not Fully Recovered After PSA

Kiwifruit Claim chairman, John Cameron is concerned that people believe that the kiwifruit industry has fully recovered from the deadly Psa disease that devastated the industry in 2010.

“We consider it misleading to say that the entire industry is now doing well and is in better shape than it has ever been,” says Mr Cameron.

“When Psa struck, growers’ lives and their livelihoods were destroyed and for many the impact is ongoing.

“There were growers who were completely wiped out, and facing no crops and plummeting land and orchard values, lost their businesses and were forced to sell at heavily discounted prices. Growers that did get through, often suffered a complete loss of income, taking on huge debts to replant. Many of them are now only just beginning to get back to pre-Psa production levels after 7 years.

“Prior to November 2010, the average value an orchard would sell for was around $400,000 per hectare. After Psa struck, prices plummeted to around $80,000 per hectare - at that point many growers were forced to sell. If it wasn’t for Psa, they might still be successfully growing kiwifruit and running their businesses.

“We understand that some people bought kiwifruit businesses and land at these rock bottom prices.”

Former kiwifruit grower, Don Hyland explains that after his orchard was hit twice with Psa, he had no option but to sell.

“My orchard, which I put my heart and soul into, was worth around $3 million prior to Psa. But I ended up selling it for only land and building value.

“I had enjoyed great success in kiwifruit farming, which was the result of a lot of hard work, innovative thinking and technological development. Psa took all that away from me.

“After the first infection, we followed instructions and cut everything out - we then re-grafted with the new G3 variety but, after being told that this would be resistant to Psa, it also succumbed to the disease.

“It was absolutely heart-breaking for me to see all our efforts to keep the orchard going fail, again and again and it was at that point that I knew I had to sell.

Mr Hyland adds “improved orchard management practices were happening before Psa. G3 was being trialled and appeared to be a good prospect – and if it had not been for Psa, myself and many others would have continued to develop, innovate and participate in the returns that others are now experiencing.

“I am angry and disappointed that something so destructive to our industry was allowed into the country and I believe it’s wrong to say that the industry is better off and that we’re all doing well now, because not everyone is,” he says.

The Kiwifruit Claim represents 212 kiwifruit growers who are holding the Government and MPI to account for the significant losses suffered by growers from the Psa incursion. The High Court trial is currently being held in Wellington. MPI denies all the claims, but the Kiwifruit Claimants say the negligence is obvious.


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