Editorial: Imported threats we must defeat

By Andrew Austin

The news that there is a second case of Psa-V bacteria at one of Hawke's Bay's kiwifruit orchards is cause for concern.

You often hear visitors to New Zealand moaning about how strict our border controls are. I have heard some tourists on inbound flights muttering that it is ridiculous that apples and other fruit are confiscated when one lands in this country.

What they don't realise is that it is this perceived over-zealousness that is actually preventing our agricultural-based economy from being badly hit by disease and pests.

Our economy is reliant on two industries -farming and tourism - and it is important for us as a food-producing nation that we keep our crops, vines and animals free of any ailments. When it comes to farming there are two things that we do well. We have the perfect climate to grow grass on which our livestock can feed and, being an island nation, we are free of many diseases that plague other countries. Unfortunately, most of our problems are imported.

It is for this reason that we need tight controls at our borders. It is also the reason we need to be very concerned when a bacteria like Psa-V gets hold of our kiwifruit.

The latest outbreak was confirmed yesterday in an orchard close to the first outbreak, earlier this month on Omaranui Rd near Taradale.

Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Association kiwifruit chairman Peter Olsen said growers were very concerned and were doing everything they could to stop the disease spreading.

A Hawke's Bay Controlled Area has been established around 43 kiwi fruit orchards.

These are worrying times for our growers and it would be terrible if the bacteria got into more local orchards.

A Ministry for Primary Industries report estimated the profit of a typical orchard in Bay of Plenty which has been hard-hit by the disease, would fall by a third. This is the last thing we need to happen here.

Strict controls and eradication of the disease is vital. Our economy depends on it.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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