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July 18, 2010
Agreements on biosecurity standards are enabling traders to take advantage of New Zealand’s free-trade agreement with China, while at the same time keeping biosecurity risk offshore.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s Plant Standards team is one that is working with Chinese authorities to put in place import health standards and approve associated quality assurance programmes.
An agreement for importation of Chinese pears into New Zealand was signed in March 2010, and under this 215 tonnes of pear and 148 tonnes of nashi have been brought into New Zealand since May 2010.
Recently, Government-level agreements have paved the way for importation of table grapes and peeled onions from China.
Going the other way, an agreement has been signed on importation of New Zealand apples to China.
Stephen Butcher, manager of Plant Imports and Exports for MAF, says the system of arranging for exports to meet pre-arranged standards has been used between Australia and New Zealand “for decades”.
This approach is being encouraged in international biosecurity forums such as the International Plant Protection Convention.
Official pre-border assurance is more efficient and effective than just inspecting goods on arrival at the border.
It includes MAF specialists going to the country of origin to assess export systems, says Stephen.
“We investigate and make sure we understand the whole product pathway and assess risks before signing the agreement. We can then agree on suitable official assurance programmes, which are formally signed off.
“When we assess, we look for documented evidence of activities such as spray diaries and training of their inspectors.”
The agreement for export of table grapes identifies the fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis and the mite Tetranychus kanzawai as particular risks. Also, another fruit fly Drosiphila suzukii is an emerging pest which uses table grapes as a host.
As part of the official assurance programme, the Chinese authority will register all vineyards producing table grapes for export to New Zealand. The vineyard of origin will be marked on cartons and the phyosanitary certificate to enable trace-back. Producers are required to use an integrated pest management programme, including pest and disease monitoring, and chemical, biological and cultural control measures.
“The advantage for producers is they understand New Zealand’s requirements and can do their best to avoid problems.
“If we find unwanted pests at the border, we take measures to manage biosecurity risks. These measures include fumigation, which can diminish quality of fruit, or possibly sending it back at the importers’ cost.
“The agreements provide advantages for everyone along the supply chain.”
The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, of which the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is a member, has designated July as Biosecurity month.
MAF has the lead role in managing the country’s biosecurity, with a strategy of managing risk and providing layers of protection and response.
MAF works at three levels: overseas to stop travellers and importers bringing pests to New Zealand; at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive; and in New Zealand to find, manage or eliminate pests that have established here.
Ph (04) 894 0471
Or call the MAF Media phoneline: 029 894 0328