Industry preparedness for BMSB
One of the biggest threats to the kiwifruit industry today is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). If this unwanted pest were to establish in New Zealand, it could cost the wider horticultural industries hundreds of millions of dollars, and be a significant public nuisance pest as it takes up residence in kiwi homes and industrial buildings over winter.
How would we respond? What if we fail to eradicate it? How would we manage it on our orchards – especially over the longer term?
As September marks the start of the next high-risk season, these are just some of the questions addressed at a simulation exercise of a BMSB incursion on a New Zealand kiwifruit orchard held earlier this week, hosted by KVH and Zespri and attended by representative observers from across horticulture and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
The exercise was supported by technical, response, operational, research, and communications staff who worked together to test the industry’s level of readiness for two scenarios – an incursion and long term management. It was held to coincide with a regular meeting of KiwiNet, the team of people selected from across the kiwifruit industry who champion biosecurity readiness and coordinate the deployment of kiwifruit industry resources into biosecurity responses.
Teams worked through what would need to happen under both scenarios to ensure key advice is developed and provided to decision makers efficiently; impacts on orchards and postharvest facilities are managed; key information to growers, the media and wider public is coordinated and regular; and the right capability can be mobilised at the right time e.g. KiwiNet responders.
A readiness plan recently developed by a joint KVH/Zespri working group identified activities to mitigate impacts of BMSB across the supply chain and was used during the exercise by teams to guide thinking.
What we learned from the simulation exercise was:
• Movement controls are difficult as the bugs fly and there are other risk movement pathways (non-kiwifruit activities) beyond our control.
• If we have to spray kiwifruit orchards as part of eradication we need to have clarified compensation issues in advance.
• Industry and Government work together well and have good, aligned systems in place. However, we can’t do it alone and the assistance of local councils, iwi and community groups is imperative. We need to make sure we consult with these groups throughout any response.
• It’s a big logistical exercise to get enough people on the ground as fast as possible. Kiwinet will help make this happen and other support or volunteer networks may also be useful.
From here, KVH and Zespri will continue to work together to look further into the need for and impact of movement controls, and the development of protocols for post-harvest operators to help with their contingency planning. A framework for coordinated long term approaches will also be developed, to ensure activities and decisions are aligned across industries and regions (this includes working with international experts such as Dr Tracy Leskey – see article here).