GIA move guards kiwiberry sector

By David Porter

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Debra Roche, Ministry of Primary Industries, MPI Minister Nathan Guy, NZKB chairman Geoff Oliver and KVH chief executive Barry O'Neil at the GIA signing.
Debra Roche, Ministry of Primary Industries, MPI Minister Nathan Guy, NZKB chairman Geoff Oliver and KVH chief executive Barry O'Neil at the GIA signing.

The growth of the kiwiberry sector within the kiwifruit industry has been highlighted by its industry group joining the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on biosecurity.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has approved the application for NZ Kiwiberry Growers Incorporated (NZKBG) to join the GIA partnership. NZKBG will be represented by Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH), which was the first industry group to sign up for the GIA in May 2014.

The kiwiberry sector is made up of about 40 producing, or soon to be producing, hectares - most of which are based in the Bay of Plenty region. Last year NZKBG generated $4.2 million in revenue, of which 90 per cent came from exports.

NZKBG chairman Geoff Oliver, a pioneering grower of the kiwiberry, said joining the partnership would give the industry the opportunity to influence decision-making in the event of a biosecurity response being required.

"This means we can all work together on managing and responding to the biosecurity risks that impact our industry," said Mr Oliver, who is co-managing director of Kiwi Produce.

"The kiwiberry sector is going through a significant growth phase, and production is projected to rise from 140,000 export trays in 2016 to 200,000 trays in 2017, so we must do all we can to understand and manage our biggest biosecurity risks and the impacts they could have on our industry."

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries has been involved in kiwiberry for about four years and is partnered with Freshmax, which owns the rights to market one of the main varieties grown. General manager grower services Simon Wells said Seeka expected to pack about 50 per cent of the crop.

"Seeka saw the potential of the category," said Mr Wells, who is also a kiwiberry grower and is on the NZKBG executive.

"It's an exciting product - bite-sized and hairless. Also the growing systems are similar, so kiwifruit growers can easily pick it up and transfer their expertise."

KVH's chief executive Barry O'Neil said KVH was pleased to represent the kiwiberry industry at the decision-making table, noting the commonality of biosecurity issues.

"Kiwiberry are likely to be susceptible to many of the same pests and diseases as other kiwifruit cultivars, so working together in partnership makes sense."

Mr O'Neill said KVH was working to determine what pests and diseases would be the biggest threats to kiwiberry.

GIA secretariat manager, Steve Rich said the addition further strengthened efforts to better deliver biosecurity outcomes.

"It's great to see sectors facing similar risks and concerns joining forces for the purposes of delivering better biosecurity," he said.

"One of the key benefits of GIA for smaller primary sectors like kiwiberry is the ability to partner directly with the other players in the system."

NZ kiwiberry (actinidia arguta):

* Small - in the 5gm to 20gm range

* Smooth hairless edible skins, and shapes varying from round to elongated.

* Also known as baby kiwi in some countries.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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