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Fiji Time: 8:41 PM on Thursday 24 April

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Export resumes

Ropate Valemei
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

FIJI'S eggplant exports to New Zealand will resume from this week.

This was after the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries reinstated the Fiji eggplant export pathway.

Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) acting chief executive officer Waisiki Gonemaituba said the reinstatement of the eggplant export to New Zealand was good news for farmers and exporters.

Mr Gonemaituba hoped farmers and exporters would take advantage of the opportunity and start exporting soon.

He said Fiji's eggplant exports to New Zealand were valued between $4million and $5m annually.

He said almost 80 per cent of the eggplants grown locally were exported to New Zealand.

New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries had put all eggplant exports from Fiji on hold temporarily after live Atherigona spp. eggs (one of three new species of shoot fly) were intercepted in a consignment of eggplants imported from Fiji in December last year. Mr Gonemaituba said the interception of live Atherigona spp. eggs was unfortunate and BAF was working closely with Department of Agriculture, eggplant exporters and farmers to maintain the integrity of the eggplant export pathway by closely monitoring the farmers and exporter.

Mr Gonemaituba said New Zealand MPI was satisfied with assurances and corrective measures indicated by BAF and the Department of Agriculture for future exports.

"Immediately after the exports were put on hold, BAF conducted its own internal audit of the whole eggplant pathway prior to the NZ MPI audit and presented the findings to NZ MPI.

"When NZ MPI came for its audit in February this year, we had commenced correction of almost all of the findings and most of them had been completed and were signed off by NZ MPI during their audit," he said.

He said the NZ MPI had offered to assist Fiji in capacity building to enhance export facilitation in the future. Mr Gonemaituba said stakeholders including BAF, Agriculture Department, eggplant exporters and farmers had to work closely together to ensure the export market was kept open.