Fiji Time: 6:38 PM on Sunday 28 May

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Eggplant ban affects farmers

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, May 20, 2017

ABOUT 150 farmers and seven exporters have been affected by a ban on eggplant exports to New Zealand.

The fruit has been slapped with a temporary suspension after the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries intercepted eggs, live larvae and adult insects on a consignment of heat-treated fruit from Fiji last month.

New Zealand director Plants, Food and Environment, Peter Thomson said the consignment was discovered on April 21 this year.

"This is a significant risk to New Zealand as it indicates potential failure of the measures we require to prevent other pests such as fruit flies arriving at the New Zealand border. New Zealand is free of fruit fly," he said.

"As a result, we have temporarily suspended the importation of eggplants from Fiji while the necessary actions are taken. This only affects eggplants."

Mr Thomson said the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries was collaborating with the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji to address the issue.

"MPI and the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) are working closely to resolve this situation.

"BAF is undertaking an audit, and once MPI is satisfied all the necessary steps are being taken to prevent this from happening again, MPI will lift the temporary suspension."

Fijian authorities said the ban had been in place since April 28.

Nadi-based heat treatment facility Nature's Way Co-operative Ltd has been facilitating the export of eggplants to New Zealand since 1995 with an average of 500 tonnes shipped annually.

To date, only 103 tonnes of the fruit has been exported to New Zealand.

"The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji is in the process of conducting a full trace-back audit to determine where the failure occurred to allow a live insect to enter New Zealand from Fiji," said Nature's Way in a statement released yesterday.

"BAF is also working with the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture and other industry stakeholders to increase training and awareness for export farmers to help control these pests in the field."

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