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Government and industry stump up $50mln for kiwifruit rescue

Thursday 18th November 2010

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The government and the kiwifruit industry will contribute $25 million each to an "aggressive" management plan for the bacterial vine disease, Psa, whose presence has now been confirmed on both the North and South Islands. 

Biosecurity Minister David Carter and the industry's statutory monopoly exporter Zespri announced the funding, which will go to "limited grower compensation for income loss, management techniques and continued research into the disease."

The decision to aggressively contain rather than seek to eradicate the disease in New Zealand became inevitable when vines infected with Psa were identified in Motueka and Golden Bay, at the top of the South Island. 

Previously, a 12 kilometre radius management zone had been identified in the Te Puke area, in the Bay of Plenty. 

Some 31 orchards, representing less than 1% of the $1.5 billion annual turnover industry, have been found to be hosting the Psa canker, which has been present and managed in Japan, Korea and Italy for many years.

"Today's decision is a major funding commitment by the government and a decision not taken lightly," said Carter. "It recognises the compelling case put forward by the kiwifruit industry to ensure its future viability."

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will be involved in the programme's governance, details of which will be shared with growers around the country for the next two days, prior to a final decision to proceed.

The first notifications to MAF of a possible Psa problem were received just under a fortnight ago, and biosecurity crisis management has swung into action since.

"We are looking at the way of the future for the management of biosecurity incursions," said Carter of the joint industry and government response.

Meanwhile, Zespri says "99% of vines are looking great" coming into the 2010/11 growing season, and there has been no change to market access for New Zealand kiwifruit into any market, as the bacteria is not transferred on the fruit itself.

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