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Fight against devastating disease begins

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New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industry groups are pleased to have been awarded a Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) Tere grant to progress research into an invasive and unwanted plant pathogen spreading overseas.

Xylella fastidiosa, currently leaving its mark across Europe and the USA, could have devastating consequences for many horticultural industries, New Zealand’s culturally important plants and private gardeners should it arrive here.

The SFF Tere project proposes a phased approach to better identify the risks posed by the pathogen to New Zealand’s primary industries and enable development of a cross-sector approach to preparation and response should it be found in New Zealand.

During the first phase known and potential impacts on a range of New Zealand’s crop and significant taonga species will be identified, as well as insects with the potential to vector spread. Phase 2 will focus on education and awareness to highlight findings and their implications. Phase 3 will then focus on developing research priorities to be progressed through a cross sector Operational Agreement for the pathogen under the Government Industry Agreement for biosecurity readiness and response (GIA).

Chairman of the Xylella Action Group, Dr Edwin Massey from New Zealand Winegrowers, said the successful application to the SFF Tere fund was the result of a highly collaborative effort by many members of the group. “This work is essential to provide us with a better understanding of the potential impacts of this pathogen on a range of sectors. It will help us to develop and implement a collaborative approach to improving New Zealand’s readiness.”

The project is likely to begin early in 2019 and will be completed within 12 months as per the SFF Tere guidelines.

The SFF Tere fund was established by the Ministry for Primary Industries to enable farmers and growers in the primary sector access to funding for smaller projects that can be contracted and implemented more quickly than larger projects requiring funding through the main SFF fund.

The Xylella Action Group was formed in early 2018 under the framework provided by GIA. Membership comprises representatives from many industry groups and organisations including NZ Apples and Pears, NZ Avocado, B3, Dairy NZ, GIA, HortNZ, Kiwifruit Vine Health, MPI, New Zealand Citrus Growers, NZPPI, New Zealand Winegrowers, Summerfruit NZ, Te Tira Whakamātaki, TomatoesNZ and Zespri.

Source: New Zealand Winegrowers

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