MPI removes illegal kiwifruit plants

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The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is today starting to remove and safely dispose of a small backyard kiwifruit orchard in an Auckland suburb that appears to have been grown from seed imported illegally.

MPI Manager Response Katherine Clift says the Ministry has been informed that the seeds were brought into New Zealand with a container of household goods when the owner moved to New Zealand in 1997. They were not declared and subsequently not detected at the border.

Dr Clift says testing of plant material from the property carried out by MPI ruled out the presence of any serious disease-causing viruses, bacteria or fungi, including Psa and MPI assessed the plants presented a low risk to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

“In addition, the plants are at a location geographically removed from key kiwifruit growing areas and the owner has stated that no plant material has been moved from the property.”

Dr Clift says that despite the low risk to the kiwifruit industry posed by this backyard operation, the seeds were imported illegally and MPI has decided any remaining seeds, kiwifruit material and the vines must be removed and safely destroyed.

MPI is now working closely with the kiwifruit industry body Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) on this issue. 

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