21 Nov 2014

Growers say industry coped well with Psa

3:30 pm on 21 November 2014

Kiwifruit growers say a report on the outbreak of vine-killing disease Psa-V in 2010 shows they they did a good job as an industry coping with it.

The independent report similar to one carried out in 2012, that looked at the biosecurity response to the Psa incursion did not investigate how the disease got into New Zealand.

The latest report highlights the need for better liaison between the industry and the Government, the development of a response plan and better practices in dealing with other potential diseases.

The president of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, Neil Trebilco, said at the time there were a number of factors that made the situation very complex.

"The discovery that there were other types of Psa that were already here but weren't causing any negative impact, or very little negative impact on orchards, so that complicated it.

Also because we weren't prepared for it in the sense we didn't understand the impact it would have on the 16-A variety, which was quite severe, we hadn't anticipated that either, so there were a number of things that complicated it and made the crisis as acute as it was."

Mr Trebilco believed the industry was much better prepared for any new disease outbreak.

"Key learning for us was, for example, the need for cooperation amongst the different stakeholders - whether that's MPI, or as it ws MAF Biosecurity back then, plus Plant and Food, various local bodies, with banks and also within the industry itself - and recognise the capabilities of each of those stakeholders. I think that was a key learning and one of the things we will take into the future."

Mr Trebilco said he doubts if it would ever be known exactly how Psa-V got into New Zealand.

Lawsuit set to be filed

A class action lawsuit against the Government by kiwifruit growers is expected to be filed within the next week after being delayed three times.

A group known as The Kiwifruit Claim is looking to sue the Government for negligent biosecurity after the Ministry for Primary Industries let Psa-infected kiwifruit plant material into the country.

Spokesperson Matthew Hooton said the claim was expected to be lodged this month.

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