Vegetables NZ Inc.
Joining the National Biosecurity Capability Network (NBCN)
GIA next steps
They key to GIA is the ability to maximise the collective resource of both the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staffing resources, service providers and our growers who are nationally placed to assist with readiness and / or responses.
The focus for the Vegetables NZ board is to ensure that MPI in particular has a process that ensures continual improvement, particularly at the “response” level (i.e. crop surveillance following detection of an unwanted pest) but also at the “readiness” level.
The key is to minimise risk at each level which will significantly reduce costs and potential damage to our growers’ crops. One of the initiatives to achieve this is the NBCN.
WHAT IS THE NBCN?
It’s a joint initiative between MPI and AsureQuality (AQ) to ensure there is a pool of capabilities and resources that can be drawn on in a biosecurity incursion. It includes service providers (i.e. certified sprayers), regional councils etc and will ultimately include growers.
Organisations such as the product groups join up to the NBCN through an agreement with MPI. To join up organisations identify capability (people) and resources (equipment, buildings, goods and services) that could be utilised in a response. This means the NBCN can quickly identify and deploy the people and equipment they might need to provide the best response.
Many different types of organisations from all over New Zealand have already joined the NBCN (over 200 organisations have signed, representing around 60,000 people). The network has been deployed a number of times, including the Queensland fruit fly response in Grey Lynn.
Personnel can be taken from organisations and trained in the workstream roles of logistics, surveillance, organism management, technical experts, movement control and operations management. However, organisations and people do not need to have specialist biosecurity experience or services to be a part of the network. The tasks network members are drawn on to perform are varied – for example waste management, transport logistics and administration.
The network also requires specialist skills which could involve team management, assessing crops, setting traps and agri-compound applications. This training takes place in peace time so the network is ready to respond in the event of a biosecurity incursion.
WHY SHOULD HORTNZ OR OTHER ORGANISATIONS JOIN THE NBCN? Other GIA/Government partners signed or in process of signing from the horticulture sector are NZ Winegrowers and Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH). As signatories for GIA we should also look to join so that industry is actively contributing to biosecurity responses in the field, as well as at the decision-making level.
PROPOSED WAY FORWARD
NBCN membership has been split into two phases – the first phase focussed on core HortNZ staff and the second phase to broaden out to product groups such as Vegetables NZ Inc (VNZI).
Phase 1 HortNZ core staff
HortNZ have recently signed an agreement with MPI, making them a formal member of the NBCN. HortNZ’s contribution is primarily in terms of people capability rather than equipment and facilities. HortNZ staff have many of the sought-after skills such as administration, as well as specialist expertise that could be essential for hard-to-fill technical response roles.
In order to join the network, HortNZ compiled a list of the relevant capabilities, experience, certifications and licences (e.g. Growsafe approved handler) of core staff so that the right people can be identified quickly to fill specific skills shortages. This doesn’t mean all HortNZ staff will be
taken away from their day job during a biosecurity response, organisations can choose how many people to deploy at a time if they are called upon to assist. When required, a contract is agreed between the parties outlining this.
Phase 2 HortNZ affiliated product groups
While HortNZ has been completing their partnership in the NBCN the biosecurity team have been considering phase two - integration of the product groups and their respective resources.
Vegetables NZ Inc.is already in discussion with HortNZ about developing a product group proposal and will be seeking interested growers to complete the same process and join the NBCN. As with the HortNZ arrangement, product group growers would have agreed predetermined parameters to work within when deployed and how they would be compensated.
Over the coming months VNZI will be formalising a proposal that will demonstrate how the NBCN will work for our growers, and if acceptable will ultimately include a resourcing schedule of those growers who wish to participate. The schedule would show what capabilities and expertise, qualifications or certifications each person would have, possible availability and contact details. The proposal may also include other information about experience that might be useful before or during a response (e.g. machinery or IT expertise, previous roles held, cultural or language capability etc). It’s important to note that it is entirely optional for anyone to participate or not at any stage (i.e. if a participant is too busy or away at the time then an alternative participant will be contacted). There will be growers who not wish to participate at all as there is no compunction to do so – the decision to be involved may also be influenced by how or at what level growers may be remunerated for their services when requested to contribute to a biosecurity activity.
The product group schedule would be integrated into a master schedule which will in the long term provide a collective range of capabilities at all levels which can be deployed at any time at any location nationwide.
A winning combination for all.