A Northland kiwifruit grower who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in income after his fruit was sabotaged is offering a $50,000 reward for evidence that leads to a conviction.
Kerry Farrand, owner of Farrand Orchards in Kerikeri, had to dump nearly 30,000 trays of gold kiwifruit recently after the powerful insecticide Calypso was sprayed on the fruit growing in two orchards over 2.26ha.
With Zespri - the world's largest marketer of kiwifruit - paying him $8 per tray, Mr Farrand said he had lost about $220,000 in income for the year and has vowed to find the culprit and bring them to justice.
The spray means he is unable to sell the kiwifruit on the world market as residue levels of the spray used exceeded the approved levels.
Kiwifruit can only be exported out of New Zealand through Zespri and the company requires a residue sample from the fruit to be taken at least a month before picking, which started in mid April.
"Our greatest fear is that if the guilty party remains free, and not brought to account, that there will be nothing stopping them from doing it again to following years' crops - to us or any other orchardist," he said.
A second test around mid April picked up excess residue levels.
Mr Farrand said he had no doubts the kiwifruit were contaminated by someone who was qualified to spray Calypso.
"This has to be the work of someone who doesn't like me, to make me look like I don't know what I am doing. But I've been doing this for 36 years and have never come across a situation this bad," Mr Farrand said.
"A tractor hadn't been in there because in March my team picked and dropped off little gold kiwifruit on the ground which have not been disturbed. Therefore, whoever's been here did it with a knapsack spray. They know the industry, they know the system."
He has lodged a complaint with police, who he said needed a witness or someone who the guilty party had spoken to about the sabotage to come forward and give evidence.
Kerikeri police Senior Constable Robert Drummond said investigations were ongoing and he hoped the $50,000 reward would help bring in a successful arrest and conviction.
"We're dealing with a large amount of money he's lost as a result of this incident and we're obliged to pursue his complaint."
Mr Drummond said the most appropriate charge under the Crimes Act was contamination of food or crops, which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
A Zespri spokeswoman said fruit from Mr Farrand's orchards failed multiple residue tests, recording many times over the allowed limit set by the government.
"We acknowledge the difficult circumstances for this grower."
Any information on those allegedly responsible for the contamination can be passed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Mr Drummond on 09 407 9211.
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