19 Jul 2012

Zespri accepts PSA biosecurity review criticism

7:00 am on 19 July 2012

Zespri has conceded that some of the criticism it received in an independent review of the biosecurity response to PSA vine disease, was justified.

The report found major shortfalls in New Zealand's biosecurity system with import requirements and border processes covering imports of pollen and other kiwifruit plant material.

It also criticised Zespri for making optimistic assumptions about biosecurity protection, and for not looking more closely at import requirements, in view of its knowledge of the impact PSA was having on Italian orchards.

Zespri discussed the review findings with growers at its annual meeting on Wednesday, and chief executive Lain Jager agrees it and the industry need to work more closely with biosecurity authorities.

He says the report found that although Zespri was aware of the risk of PSA and of fruit and plant material coming into the country, perhaps the organisation's focus wasn't broad enough because pollen was coming into the country and Zespri didn't know about it.

"We recognise that that simple lack of knowledge on our part failed to meet the standard of excellence that is expected by ourselves and by our growers".

Mr Jager says Zespri needs to lift its strategic focus on biosecurity and on working proactively with the Government.

"We got a clear message from growers that they want us engaged proactively with the Government on mitigating risks before they actually materialise".