10 May 2012

Kiwifruit disease could end up costing nearly $900m

10:01 am on 10 May 2012

A report by the organisation Kiwifruit Vine Health estimates the long term cost of the vine disease PSA is between $740 million and $885 million in lost development.

Since being discovered in a Bay of Plenty orchard in November 2010, more than 1100 kiwifruit orchards have been identified as having the disease.

The report by researchers at Lincoln University, released on Wednesday, estimates the disease will cost the industry up to $410 million in the next five years but long term costs may be greater.

It says the disease will also result in up to 470 jobs being lost each year between now and 2016, with the impact flowing on to businesses and households reliant on the kiwifruit sector.

Kiwifruit Vine Health's financial recovery coordinator John Burke says it is a significant dent to the economy.

"We need every dollar we can get as a New Zealand Inc, and so an industry that was extremely successful and tracking towards growing its earnings to $3 billion by 2025 has taken a bit of a knock-back."

Mr Burke says some affected growers are already heavily in debt, especially in Te Puke, and will need help to fund the replanting of their orchards with PSA-resistant vines.

He says banks have shown understanding and are dealing with growers on a case-by-case basis.

The report concludes the kiwifruit industry and wider Bay of Plenty area have yet to experience the full impact of the disease.