26 Mar 2012

Kiwifruit industry seeks financial help from Government

7:23 am on 26 March 2012

Three kiwifruit organisations will meet government representatives this week to discuss financial packages for growers affected by a vine disease.

The meeting follows Zespri's decision to accelerate the release and production of the new gold kiwifruit variety G3, which is showing resistance to Psa.

Zespri says the rollout marks a turning point for the industry's recovery.

It has joined up with Kiwifruit Vine Health and the national growers body to seek government assistance to boost the industry's recovery.

KVH's financial recovery co-ordinator John Burke says kiwifruit orchards now have a total debt of $800 million and it is in New Zealand's interest to help kiwifruit growers to get back on their feet.

Mr Burke says the Government will be told that the sooner the kiwifruit industry is back on track, the sooner export earnings will be lifted which is good for the economy and the country.

He says if growers can't get access to working capital, that will leave a prolonged depressed property market which will delay the recovery of orchards and force some orchardists to sell.

Mr Burke says that would mean losing people from the industry, particularly younger more progressive growers, who tend to have higher debt levels.

More than 1100 kiwifruit orchards are now infected with Psa - about a third of the total.