To­ma­toesNZ Inc.

Cer­tainty needed to move to al­ter­na­tive fu­els

NZ Grower - - Contents - HE­LEN BARNES Busi­ness Man­ager To­ma­toesNZ Inc.

We agreed that im­prove­ments to the scheme are needed to pro­vide cer­tainty and trans­parency, and sup­ported op­por­tu­ni­ties for NZ to tran­si­tion to a net zero emis­sions econ­omy while en­sur­ing that the im­pacts on do­mes­tic veg­etable pro­duc­ers were un­der­stood and man­aged. The fol­low­ing is an ex­tract from our sub­mis­sion:

Grow­ers of fresh to­ma­toes, cap­sicums, eg­g­plant and cu­cum­bers cur­rently have ac­cess to free al­lo­ca­tions via the Emis­sions In­ten­sive Trade Ex­posed (EITE) scheme. These off­set the ETS costs to vary­ing de­grees depend­ing on lo­ca­tion.

In the South Is­land, where coal is the pri­mary source of heat­ing for glasshouses, grow­ers in­cur a higher ETS cost and these costs are not fully re­cov­ered by the free al­lo­ca­tions they re­ceive. For ex­am­ple, at the cur­rent NZU price of $25, we cal­cu­late the aver­age net cost of the ETS, af­ter the free al­lo­ca­tion, on heat­ing costs for a South Is­land tomato grower is $26,693 a hectare. At an NZU price of $50, this rises to a net cost of $53,386 a hectare. In the­ory, the cur­rent free al­lo­ca­tion sys­tem, which is based on yield in­stead of en­ergy use, should have given a price sig­nal for in­cen­tivis­ing fuel source changes, how­ever this has not oc­curred due to con­straints in­clud­ing lack of suit­able al­ter­na­tives and the cap­i­tal costs of con­ver­sion. We there­fore strongly ad­vo­cate for re­tain­ing free unit al­lo­ca­tions for EITE in­dus­tries un­til this prob­lem has been re­solved and there is vi­able al­ter­na­tive tech­nol­ogy avail­able for grow­ers through­out NZ. Whilst grow­ers have made sig­nif­i­cant gains in yield and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency over the past 10 years, much of the cur­rent in­fra­struc­ture is reach­ing its lim­its and there are not many op­por­tu­ni­ties for fu­ture im­prove­ments with­out sig­nif­i­cant re-in­vest­ment in new green­houses. This will not hap­pen with­out cer­tainty around ETS set­tings, and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in terms of al­ter­na­tive, cost ef­fec­tive fuel sources.

As one of our mem­bers put it “there are no low hang­ing fruit here”, as there are no straight­for­ward, ob­vi­ous or cheap an­swers to how this in­dus­try can tran­si­tion to low or zero car­bon fu­els.

NZ con­sumers are un­likely to be will­ing to pay higher costs for pro­duce. In 2012 Sta­tis­tics New Zealand pointed out that, “Fresh to­ma­toes had an aver­age re­tail price of 1 shilling and 1 penny per pound in the March 1949 quar­ter. That’s about $9.10/kg in to­day’s terms, al­low­ing for gen­eral food price in­fla­tion. By com­par­i­son, the weighted aver­age re­tail price in the March 2011 quar­ter was $4.40 per kg.”

Dur­ing that same quar­ter (Jan­uary-March) of 2018, the weighted aver­age re­tail price of fresh loose to­ma­toes mea­sured weekly by Sta­tis­tics New Zealand across seven re­gions of NZ ranged from $1.93 to $5.80/kg and av­er­aged $3.54/kg.

This il­lus­trates that grow­ers face on­go­ing down­ward price pres­sure.

Re­tain­ing a fixed price ceil­ing or fixed price op­tion for ETS units would pre­vent pro­duc­tion costs ris­ing so high that grow­ers are put out of busi­ness, par­tic­u­larly in the South Is­land, be­cause they can­not pass on the cost.

The al­ter­na­tive is that in the fu­ture these veg­eta­bles will not be grown in NZ for sub­stan­tial pe­ri­ods of the year and in­stead be im­ported, which we be­lieve would have neg­a­tive so­cial and eco­nomic con­se­quences. For ex­am­ple peo­ple would no longer have ac­cess to lo­cally grown pro­duce that is fresher than im­ports; biose­cu­rity risks will in­crease from the im­ported prod­ucts; jobs and ex­port in­come will be lost; and NZ’s own food se­cu­rity (abil­ity to pro­vide its own fresh veg­eta­bles) re­duced. Ad­di­tion­ally, those coun­tries that the pro­duce is im­ported from may not face the same car­bon charges that our grow­ers face, or they may pay a dif­fer­ent price. There­fore NZ ETS prices should be linked to in­ter­na­tional prices, via di­rect in­ter­na­tional pur­chas­ing of units.

The full sub­mis­sion is avail­able on www.to­ma­toesnz.co.nz/hot-top­ics/ets/

Potato Mop Top Virus (PMTV)

This un­wanted or­gan­ism was re­cently dis­cov­ered in stored potato tu­bers in Can­ter­bury. It is soil borne and vec­tored by the potato dis­ease Pow­dery Scab. Our lit­er­a­ture re­search to date has pro­duced no ev­i­dence that it af­fects to­ma­toes. How­ever, if you see any un­usual symp­toms please re­port them to the MPI dis­ease hot­line 0800 80 99 66.

Im­port fig­ures

The three months to the end of Au­gust saw al­most 516 tonnes of Aus­tralian im­ported to­ma­toes ar­rive, which is 2.5 times the vol­ume for all of 2017. Last year the im­ports oc­curred from July through to Oc­to­ber.

Com­mod­ity levy ap­pli­ca­tion sub­mit­ted

Our ap­pli­ca­tion for a new fresh tomato com­mod­ity levy or­der to fund To­ma­toesNZ ac­tiv­i­ties from 2019-2025 was sub­mit­ted to the Min­is­ter for Pri­mary In­dus­tries in late Septem­ber. We ex­pect the new levy or­der to take ef­fect from April 1 next year, re­plac­ing the cur­rent levy or­der.

Grower’s bug scout­ing ex­pe­di­tion

Tomato grower and board mem­ber, An­thony Tring­ham, along with his wife An­gela from Cu­ri­ous Crop­pers in Cleve­don, re­cently hosted Pro­fes­sor Steve Wrat­ten and PhD stu­dent Morgan Shields from Lin­coln Uni­ver­sity at their green­houses.

To­gether with Chris Thomp­son from Bio­force they con­ducted a bug scout­ing ex­pe­di­tion at their site. An­thony has a tun­nel house with an old crop in it that has not had in­sec­ti­cide ap­plied for many months. Dif­fer­ing to stan­dard prac­tice, he lets weeds grow plen­ti­fully around the houses to in­crease eco­log­i­cal com­plex­ity.

The group did some sweep net­ting around the green­houses, how­ever as the weather was cool they did not find too many bugs. A few tomato potato psyl­lids (TPP) were iden­ti­fied which were quite small in size. An­thony hopes this in­di­cates that they are be­ing eaten be­fore they ma­ture. White­fly was be­ing par­a­sitised by En­car­sia For­mosa, and Eu­ro­pean red mite was found.

They also picked leaves and checked them un­der a binoc­u­lar mi­cro­scope. Few ben­e­fi­cial in­sects were found out­side the glasshouses given the weather, but they did find some preda­tory brown lacewings.

Morgan gave a pro­to­col to An­thony and An­gela about how to set up ‘banker plants’ com­pris­ing TPP and Ta­mar­ixia in en­closed cages in the older houses so that they can ‘trickle’ Ta­mar­ixia into the main houses at the de­sired quan­ti­ties and in­ter­vals buy break­ing off leaflets as needed. Morgan ad­vised this is cheaper than buy­ing them ev­ery week and gives the grow­ers more con­trol over and un­der­stand­ing of the sys­tem. Pro­fes­sor Wrat­ten ad­vises this pro­to­col can be made avail­able to all NZ tomato grow­ers if they are pre­pared to not spray every­where.

As the weather warms An­thony and An­gela wait to see how their ecosys­tem de­vel­ops.

◀ Pro­fes­sor Steve Wrat­ten and An­gela Tring­ham in­spect tomato plants.

q An­thony Tring­ham, Morgan Shields, Steve Wrat­ten and An­gela Tring­ham dur­ing their scout­ing ex­pe­di­tion.

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