The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.
Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.
“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa.
“What was in no doubt however was the support of the government: within days of Psa’s discovery in NZ, the government had committed $25 million – matched dollar for dollar by industry – for R&D into managing the disease and grower support.
“Now volumes of kiwifruit are back to pre-Psa levels, grower returns are strong, orchard prices are back to and in some cases surpassing pre-Psa values, and our new higher-value gold variety Zespri SunGold (Gold3) is proving itself in the orchard and in the market.”
Mr McBride presented the Prime Minister with a kiwifruit carving on behalf of the industry as a token of gratitude for the government’s support. “Thanks to the government’s strong support – together with our unified industry structure, the resilience of our growers and the support of the banks – our industry is not just back on track, we’re set for strong growth,” he says.
The Prime Minister took time to talk with industry representatives and Zespri staff at the event and was also shown Zespri’s additional new temporary office which will open shortly, housing around 60 people.