Anger expected at Psa meeting
Strong emotions likely to be on show at today's emergency meeting of Waikato kiwifruit growers grappling with the local discovery of Psa-V disease have prompted organisers to close the gathering to the public.
Industry biosecurity agency Kiwifruit Vine Health has banned the media from the 4pm meeting in Cambridge.
Ohaupo grower and local KVH co-ordinator Richard Glenn said the meeting, called to discuss ways to combat spread of the disease from two infected orchards near Te Awamutu, could be a "wake" with a funeral atmosphere or angry, and growers need privacy to vent their thoughts.
Industry experts including from national marketer Zespri will be at the meeting to give advice.
They have had two years of experience dealing with the devastation caused by Psa-V to orchards in the kiwfruit capital, the Bay of Plenty.
KVH, set up in 2010 to try to manage the virulent bacterial disease discovered in Te Puke that year, announced yesterday an organic gold fruit orchard near Te Awamutu had been confirmed with Psa-V, and a nearby gold property was expected to also prove positive for the disease. KVH refuses to say where the orchards are. A 12km radius quarantine area has been thrown up around the infected orchards and extensive vine monitoring is under way today. There are 24 orchards within the 12km hot zone.
News of the outbreak was devastating to local growers, Glenn said. There are 131 orchards in the Waikato. Many local growers had been trying to protect and prepare its vines for two years, with preventative copper spraying and strict orchard hygiene practices.
Waikato is a significant contributor to the national organic kiwifruit crop, producing about 20 per cent of this year's organic harvest.
The region produces around 4 per cent of the total national kiwifruit crop and around 3 per cent of total gold fruit hectares, Zespri said.
Local growers earned nearly $29 million from the 2011 harvest, the marketer said. The Waikato sector employs about 300 people at the peak of harvest between March and May.
The disease is thought to have come from China through plant material in a biosecurity border breach.
A recent independent KVH-commissioned study identified a number of system failings in the Ministry for Primary Industries', (at the time MAF) biosecurity systems around the kiwifruit sector.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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