Mar 29 2019

March Monthly Update

Biosecurity Workshop

The TNZ board, along with key industry partners, participated in a biosecurity response simulation exercise run by Biosecurity NZ (MPI) in Auckland on 14th February.

Sixteen growers and industry associates attended, including representatives from other covered vegetable crop growers, a plant nursery and United Fresh.   

The exercise “scenario” imagined finding Tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer) adults and larvae in a greenhouse in South Auckland.

Tuta absoluta is one of the two pests (the other being Pepino mosaic virus [PepMV]) named in the recently signed Fresh Tomato Operational Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response. It is a highly destructive leaf mining moth of tomato plants and fruit, and can also infest other solanaceous crops.  It is a pest in tomato greenhouses in many parts of the world, and has been rapidly spreading  our way. A fact sheet about Tuta absoluta can be found on the biosecurity page of the website.

After MPI presented some background information on the biosecurity response system and on the biology of Tuta absoluta, the attendees split into two groups. Each person in the group was allocated one of the “roles” of a biosecurity response team: controller, intelligence, planning, operations, logistics, public information management (PIM) and welfare.  The teams then had to make decisions on how to react, and come up with as many activities as they could think of to prevent adverse impacts of the theoretical scenario. The groups then allocated the activities to members of the teams according to roles.

This proved very useful in terms of learning what goes into a response plan and understanding “CIMS” coordinated incident management system.  This system is used for incident management not just by MPI but other organisations such as the Fire Service, Civil Defence, etc.  It involves planning and coordinating activities under six functional areas overseen by a control function, as shown in the diagram.


Besides giving the participants a clearer understanding of what happens in a response, a whiteboard session at the end produced a long list of activities that could be started on now, to better prepare the industry for Tuta absoluta, and minimise its impact if (or when) it does arrive.

Participants feedback at the end of the day included that they were encouraged by a strong willingness to work together and engage across government and industry to ensure the best outcomes for growers and NZ; a better understanding of the MPI response system; and an increased awareness of the work that can be done to better prepare industry for a biosecurity incursion.

TomatoesNZ will be working with MPI to prioritise and begin work on some of those activities in the next few months and we’ll keep you updating our progress.

 New Exotic Pest factsheets available

We have added three new information sheets on tomato biosecurity risk pests:

  • Tomato Pinworm  
  • Red spider mite
  • Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) and Tomato Infectious Chlorosis Virus (TICV)

The fact sheets can be downloaded here.