Insights into kiwifruit growers' positivity about biosecurity
A recent survey of growers and workers in kiwifruit and several other Bay of Plenty industries has affirmed that people are onboard with protecting New Zealand from biosecurity threats and think it’s important everyone plays their part.
The ‘Biosecurity Excellence at the Port of Tauranga’ initiative has been exploring the biosecurity awareness and behaviours of key groups over recent years (because of their connection to the processing and handling of a diverse range of goods through the Port of Tauranga) and a new survey was undertaken a few months ago of four industries in the Bay of Plenty region: kiwifruit, forestry, avocado, and passionfruit.
Pleasingly, the findings – in an easy to read infographic here - suggest that across all four industries, protecting New Zealand from unwanted pests and diseases is extremely important. In detail:
· there is a perception everyone has a responsibility for biosecurity, and the Ministry for Primary Industries/Biosecurity New Zealand is believed to hold the greatest responsibility,
· while growers were seen to hold a high level of responsibility for biosecurity, when asked about biosecurity training, respondents said staff on their orchard or plantation only received a moderate degree of training on how to recognise signs and symptoms of potential biosecurity risks,
· responses to questions around the existence of biosecurity management plans highlighted that many are tailored to the industry or sector level, rather than to the needs of specific operations,
· some key biosecurity practices are undertaken more often than others. Practices related to assessing risks/symptoms on plants or trees were more common (as high as 79.3%) than practices around checking and cleaning vehicles, machinery, and equipment,
· when asked about barriers to implementing biosecurity practices, respondents indicated that, while there were no major perceived impediments, the greatest barriers related to time, know how, and practicality,
· industry workers would like more information about the biosecurity risks of not implementing measures, and case studies of how individual growers have benefitted from taking action.
When we look at results for kiwifruit growers specifically, findings differed in that these growers perceived themselves to hold a higher degree of responsibility for biosecurity than those within other sectors. The findings also suggest that people from the kiwifruit industry undergo more biosecurity training and have more site-specific biosecurity plans in place to reduce biosecurity risks. Interestingly, the kiwifruit participants reported that those within their operations routinely check and sanitise tools, but do not routinely check vehicles and machinery. KVH will be working with growers to look further into how and why decisions about this are made.
From here, the ‘Biosecurity Excellence at the Port of Tauranga’ team will look at how it can help the four industry groups surveyed to:
· enhance training about recognising the signs and symptoms of potential biosecurity risks, and what to do if something unusual is found,
· support operations develop site-specific biosecurity management plans that consider the practicality and timing of putting recommended biosecurity practices in place,
· make use of both best and worst-case scenario case studies for implementing biosecurity practices,
· increase awareness of how implementing biosecurity measures is linked to a wide range of economic, social, and environmental benefits.