Av­o­cado Up­date

I was in­vited to speak at the Biose­cu­rity Fo­rum in Auck­land last De­cem­ber, on the topic of how we man­age biose­cu­rity in the av­o­cado in­dus­try.

The Orchardist - - Contents -

Rais­ing the pro­file of biose­cu­rity

Some­thing that jumped out for me as I pre­pared my pre­sen­ta­tion is the sig­nif­i­cant jump in ca­pa­bil­ity we have across our in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly across my team and the board. I am sure this is mir­rored across most hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tors.

The av­o­cado in­dus­try is now a sig­na­tory to the Gov­ern­ment In­dus­try Agree­ment and have signed the Fruit Fly Op­er­a­tional Agree­ment. We now sit at the ta­ble with a wide range of other agri­cul­ture in­dus­tries and are ac­count­able in part­ner­ship with the Gov­ern­ment for set­ting and im­ple­ment­ing strate­gies for readi­ness and re­sponse for ex­otic pests and diseases. Whereas four or so years ago, biose­cu­rity for our in­dus­try sat with our tech­ni­cal staff alone – we now need as an in­dus­try, to un­der­stand much more widely the im­pli­ca­tions of biose­cu­rity. We are now pay­ing for it and be­cause we work in part­ner­ship with other sec­tors we need to en­sure our in­dus­try and hor­ti­cul­ture in gen­eral gets the priority it de­serves. Biose­cu­rity is the big­gest threat to our in­dus­try and as in­dus­try lead­ers we need to know the de­tail about how we are pro­tect­ing our­selves and mit­i­gat­ing this risk.

The av­o­cado in­dus­try, like many other pri­mary sec­tors, in­vests in a ded­i­cated biose­cu­rity man­ager. Our biose­cu­rity man­ager, Brad Siebert, is in daily con­tact his coun­ter­parts from the hor­ti­cul­ture, viti­cul­ture and forestry sec­tors and meets reg­u­larly to ex­change in­for­ma­tion and strate­gies to build our col­lec­tive biose­cu­rity ca­pa­bil­ity. Part of his role is to make sure our board, key mem­bers of our team and sup­ply chain, and my­self are up­skilled on the ac­tiv­ity we are un­der­tak­ing to mit­i­gate our big­gest threats. Jodi Se­nior, our com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, works with Brad to de­velop key mes­sages for biose­cu­rity for our many au­di­ences; grow­ers, pack­ers, the gov­ern­ment and con­sumers. Marisa Till, our re­search man­ager, her team and other in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als moving onto or­chards need to un­der­stand how they can pro­mote best prac­tice onor­chard biose­cu­rity to our grow­ers.

We en­sure ev­ery edi­tion of our in­dus­try mag­a­zine, AvoScene, has a biose­cu­rity up­date. This may be an ex­otic pest fact sheet, changes to biose­cu­rity pol­icy at the border or ad­vice on how grow­ers and their ser­vice providers can help re­duce the in­tro­duc­tion of pests onto their orchard.

Of huge im­por­tance to us now is the cross-in­dus­try dis­cus­sion on brown mar­morated stink bug (BMSB). The Hor­ti­cul­ture link to the Bet­ter Border Biose­cu­rity (B3) science col­lab­o­ra­tion

and other science part­ner­ship fo­rums is stronger than ever bring­ing gov­ern­ment, re­searchers and in­dus­try to­gether to fo­cus on key ar­eas of con­cern. For ex­am­ple, a small group of pri­mary sec­tor rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­cently pro­vided an in­dus­try per­spec­tive on up­com­ing B3 re­search pro­pos­als to get an end user view on pri­or­i­ties.

The hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­tries are also sup­port­ing a num­ber of ini­tia­tives in­clud­ing US re­searchers com­ing to NZ for a US-NZ In­va­sive species work­shop (May 2017) and cross in­dus­try meet­ings fo­cused on uni­fy­ing on-orchard biose­cu­rity mes­sages.

A big fo­cus is on build­ing the re­la­tion­ships un­der GIA across in­dus­try and MPI that en­able us to have in depth dis­cus­sions and al­low in­dus­try to gain con­fi­dence in MPI pro­cesses and ac­tions. This di­a­logue also helps us to co­op­er­ate more broadly whether it be in­dus­try lead­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion for the BMSB bio-con­trol ‘Samu­rai Wasp’ or drive off­shore BMSB mit­i­ga­tions ef­forts sup­ported by MPI.

I sum­marised my pre­sen­ta­tion by sug­gest­ing that biose­cu­rity no longer lives in the cor­ner of­fice but is now a priority for any pri­mary in­dus­try. The im­pact of biose­cu­rity can reach across the en­tire sup­ply chain so as in­dus­tries we must bring it front of mind and as in­dus­try lead­ers must build own ca­pa­bil­ity around biose­cu­rity. Biose­cu­rity 2025 has widened that and sug­gests as an is­land na­tion that New Zealand must be­come a biose­cu­rity team of 4.7 mil­lion where a col­lec­tive ef­fort across the coun­try will see ev­ery New Zealan­der un­der­stand­ing the threat and through their own busi­nesses help to man­age their share of biose­cu­rity risk. I’m hugely in sup­port of that and hope as readers you’re in­creas­ing your own aware­ness to pre­serve this amaz­ing en­vi­ron­ment we live in.

Jen Scoular

The mar­morated stink bug is the sub­ject of cross-in­dus­try dis­cus­sion.

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