NZ: government continues effort to control tomato disease

Authorities working to contain a tomato plant disease are hopeful exports can resume to some countries before the season starts in October.

Last month the Ministry for Primary Industries stopped exports to six countries after the Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) was found on plants here. The countries - Australia, Japan, Thailand, Fiji, Tonga, and New Caledonia - consider the disease a quarantine risk.

The disease can affect the yield of crops and delay fruit growth. It was found on plants in an Auckland greenhouse in April. MPI response controller David Yard said PepMV is now in four glasshouses and work was continuing to control the spread.

"The key efforts will be in preventing the spread between different operations between different greenhouse complexes, and particularly between indoor and outdoor tomato growing units.

"We will be looking at having non-farm biosecurity plans for individual operators. Those will include measures such as good hygiene around equipment, and properties, for example, keeping equipment sterilized, keeping records of peoples movements, around the farm and onto other properties," Yard said.

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