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Fiji Time: 3:39 AM on Saturday 19 April

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Call to control crop pests

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PRODUCE growers in the Western Division were urged to spray fruit and vegetables on a regular basis to reduce exports from failing international quality standards and tests.

The plea from the CEO of Nature's Way Cooperative, Michael Brown, came after eggplant exports to New Zealand were banned last year because of infestation of a pest called atherigona sp.

He warned the more than 250 farmers who attended the co-op's annual general meeting in Nadi last week that laxity in the maintenance of crops would affect the quality of exports to overseas markets.

Mr Brown said the high temperature forced air treatment provided by the co-op only controlled two species of pests.

"A word of advice to growers and exporters, if you do not do the spraying for pest control regularly as required you will continue to get interceptions at the border," he said.

"Our treatment plant is only for the control of two species of fruit flies, bactrocera passiflorae and bactrocera xanthdes."

He added that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in New Zealand had conducted an audit of the Nature's Way treatment plant after a few exporters raised concerns about the authenticity of the fresh produce treatment process.

"Although the co-op was cleared after the audit, the continuous interception of the atherigona sp pest in eggplants being exported to New Zealand resulted in a temporary ban by Kiwi biosecurity authorities."

Nature's Way exported 393,344 tonnes of eggplants to New Zealand last year.