The New Zealand Dollar remains strong although it lost a fraction of a percent at the opening of the markets this morning. Many, viewing reports that the US has banned the fruits or from being imported into the country, have begun dumping stocks, leading to a devaluation of the dollar.
This morning it became apparent that the outbreak might not be confined to the handful of orchards that were thought to be the only affected by the blight. At first it appeared that only 18 growers had infected crops and that measures taken had stopped the spread of the disease, but over night that number has risen to 43 orchards showing signs of pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae (PSA).
The government had already placed travel restrictions in the affect Bay of Plenty area, which produces 77 percent of New Zealand’s kiwi crop, according to reports.
Minister of Biosecurity David Carter released a statement this afternoon, confirming the reports of the outbreak, and assuring that they will take all the necessary steps in preventing the further spread of the disease. “MAF, working with MFAT, has informed our relevant trading partners, including Australia, USA and China. We will work to minimise the risk of any trade restrictions by providing regular information and updates,” said Minister Carter.
“At this stage we do not know how the disease arrived in New Zealand. It is possible that it may have been here for some time,” reported the minister, and clarified that the virus only affects kiwi plants.
“Psa is spread by pollen, heavy rainfall, strong winds, animals and humans. The disease appears to only attack under certain environmental conditions. It carries no human or animal health risk and does not affect plants other than kiwifruit vines. Kiwifruit remain safe to eat,” he said. He also noted that they are unsure of when the initial infection could have taken place, saying it could have been in the area for “some time.”
“Our commitment to providing the most robust biosecurity system possible is unfailing.”
New Zealand is the third largest producer and exporter of the fruit, with the industry represents about $1.4 billion (NZ) for the country.
Officials in the United States said that they would not import any fruit until a review of the outbreak had been completed.