16 Nov 2013

HortNZ sees gaps in regional biosecurity

7:33 am on 16 November 2013

Horticulture New Zealand says the lack of regional biosecurity controls is putting the fruit and vegetable sector at risk.

Chief executive Peter Silcock says regional biosecurity is woeful and he believes a lack of co-ordination among councils has led to a poor record of preventing pests and diseases spreading once they're here.

He says the guava moth making its way south out of Northland, the PSA bacteria which has just been discovered in kiwifruit orchards in Whanganui, and the lettuce aphid are a few examples of pests and diseases that have spread rapidly once they've arrived.

Mr Silcock says once a pest or disease gets into the country, it's largely left to regional councils to deal with the problem on their own, and they are primarily focussed on dealing with existing incursions in their patch.

He says the horticulture industry could look at the movement of rootstocks and plant material, and at whether reusable packaging needs to be washed before it is moved.

Mr Silcock says under the Australian state system, controls are placed on where product must be treated before it gets shipped to other states.

He says the response to the giant white butterfly incursion in Nelson has shown the industry what can be achieved when a domestic biosecurity campaign is run.