10 Oct 2013

Smaller scale fruit and vege producers get access to safer agrichemicals

7:37 am on 10 October 2013

A project that's helping smaller scale fruit and vegetable producers to introduce more targeted and environmentally friendly pesticides has had the first new agrichemical registered.

The insecticide, called Prodigy, will be used to control the leaf-roller pest on blueberry crops.

The minor crops project was set up under the government Sustainable Farming Fund to help speed up the process and reduce the costs of getting new agrichemicals registered for use in New Zealand.

Getting access to sustainable, lower risk chemicals is becoming more urgent for growers as older compounds are phased out or restricted.

Project manager Nikki Johnson of Market Access Solutionz says it's a particular problem for the smaller scale horticulture industries.

She says it's a major issue for any crop that's smaller than say apples, kiwifruit or potatoes.

Ms Johnson says they're crops that don't justify economic investment by chemical companies because the sales that they make would not cover the cost of registration and marketing the products.

She says the project's been set up to identify ways to streamline the regulatory processes and help groups, companies and government agencies work together to improve access to chemicals for the minor crops.

Ms Johnson says two more new agrichemicals for citrus fruit and leafy vegetables are close to registration, with more to follow this year.