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NZ Potato Body To Ensure Quality Products Enter Fiji

NZ Potato Body To Ensure Quality Products Enter Fiji
New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries Senior Policy Analyst Sally Jennings, Senior Adviser Fresh Produce Imports Nacanieli Waqa, Potatoes New Zealand Chief Executive Chris Claridge, BAF Chief Executive Officer Hillary Kumwenda and Acting Director Crop Research Dr Apaitia Macanawai during the Bilateral meeting at Novotel Nadi on Tuesday night. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA
August 23
13:02 2018

New Zealand’s potato industry governing body  has made a commitment to ensure the quality of potatoes imported from NZ by Fiji will be of top quality.

Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) says it wanted to see Fiji’s potato industry grow.

Its chief executive Chris Claridge made the comments during the Biosecurity of Fiji’s bilateral meeting with the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (NZMPI) in Nadi on Tuesday.

PNZ was representing the interests of the NZ potato industry at the meeting.

Mr Claridge said: “On behalf of Potatoes NZ, I would like to make a commitment in ensuring the quality of potatoes that we send from NZ to Fiji will remain at the highest possible level.”

He thanked BAF and NZMPI to allow PNZ to also have an input into the discussion.

“We are committed to helping the local potato industry grow and develop over time,” Mr Claridge said.

“We feel that potatoes make an excellent food. They should be eaten with all meals from our view. Everyone loves potatoes and we want to share our knowledge to have a growth.”

New Zealand is a top global exporter of potatoes.

In 2014, the country sold 105,517 tonnes to overseas markets worth NZ$103 million (FJ$144.97m), according to Potato NZ statistics.

Technical assistance

Potatoes are reasonably complicated crop to grow.

They are vulnerable to a lot of different diseases like soilborne, fungus and bacterial.

“We have quite a lot of technical knowledge to manage potatoes, how to ensure it is disease free and how to achieve yields,” Mr Claridge said.

“We have quite a huge research and development programme in NZ on potatoes with our local research organisations we are able to transfer some of that knowledge here.”

He added that they are be able to identify a variety that might grow better here and is robust to cope with the Fijian climate conditions.

Agricultural Ministry view

Ministry of Agriculture acting director crop research Apaitia Macanawai said that in 2012 Fiji started potato production and imported 8,200 tonnes of planting materials from NZ.

He said: “We imported potatoes from NZ, butwe struggled a bit; maybe the variety was not suitable to Fiji’s conditions.

“With the assistance put in place today, we will come back to NZ as they have committed to assist us and plan to introduce tropical varieties to grow in Fiji.”

Potatoes NZ Inc. became incorporated in 2012.Previously it had been operating as a product group within Horticulture New Zealand.

Positive outcomes

Positive outcomes were reached at the meeting, said BAF chief executive officer Hillary Kumwenda.

Mr Kumwenda said it was a clear demonstration of the relationship between BAF and New Zealand’s primary industries ministry.

The stakeholders also discussed implementing an updated system to ensure the health and quality compliance of potatoes destined for the Fijian market. 

Mr Kumwenda said: “We started exchanging views on how actually to improve.

“We have agreed going forward to actually host a representative from Potato NZ that will come to Fiji.

“That person will make a trace of the quality of potatoes when they leave the farm gate until the time it reaches the wharf and up to the shelves.”

He said BAF would also montior the size of potatoes coming from NZ to Fiji.

Feedback:  waisean@fijisun.com.fj

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