The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has commissioned the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated (NZPPI) to lead development of the scheme, placing plant producers at the forefront of New Zealand’s biosecurity efforts.
Over the next six months, NZPPI will work with industry, MPI and other stakeholders to design a plant production biosecurity standard and manual. This consultative process will determine key considerations such as how the scheme will run and how to upskill industry.
The industry body says that an incursion, depending on the pest in question, would be devastating. It adds that it wants to know what the industry would like done to safeguard their livelihoods against practices, which put all nursery operations at risk. To that end, a focus group has been formed to help NZPPI access a wide variety of views, and it will also hold workshops in coming months to ensure plant producers can have questions answered and it can be made aware of any concerns.
The NZPPI team working on this project will seek to understand the sector’s thoughts about the scheme and collaborate with it to develop a common sense, workable solution. The industry body says it wants to build a scheme which works and is workable; that focuses on good generic biosecurity practice; reduces the risk of spreading myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms through plant trade; and, ensures a plant producer is still able to safely move plants.
Through the process industry and stakeholders will consider the balance between voluntary or mandatory scheme, which is the best way to achieve the outcomes desired and how either may operate to the benefit of industry and New Zealand’s biosecurity. At some point later in the year, industry will need to decide whether the scheme will be voluntary or mandatory.
The project recognises the crucial role that plant producers and colleagues in supply chains have in the early detection of new pests and diseases. Plant producers served as New Zealand’s early warning system in last years’ myrtle rust incursion and have proved vital in helping to limit the spread of pests and diseases. The industry’s rapid adoption of NZPPI’s myrtle rust management protocols helped keep plants moving and prevented further rust spread through the supply chain. To date, there have been no further infections detected in nurseries or among supply chain members.
Industry’s contribution to the myrtle rust response was applauded by Government. This scheme will further strengthen plant producers’ contribution in keeping New Zealand free of unwanted pests and diseases. It will help with the long-term management of myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms, and support a professional approach to biosecurity across the plant production industry.
The scheme will harness the critical skills, observations and enthusiasm within the industry to complement the work being done to educate the biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders.
Expected benefits of this project include:
- Greater biosecurity professionalism and standards industry-wide;
- Increased likelihood of early detection of myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms;
- Minimise domestic spread of myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms;
- Preservation of response options in the event of future incursions;
- Programmes to help protect producers and their supply chains from pest and disease threats;
- Continued safe trade of young plants of known health status;
- Continued freedom of movement of young plants to realise economic and environmental benefits to New Zealand.
NZPPI says it will have more details on the project schedule and how industry members can provide input regarding the design of the scheme in the coming months.