May 08 2020

May 2020 update

Covid-19 update

As we write this, we are hopeful that early next week the PM will announce the country moving to Alert Level 2.  This will allow the re-opening of independent fruit & vegetable stores and possibly the farmers and flea markets that have been closed for the past six weeks. 

We joined with HortNZ in making a case to the government for independent stores to re-open, as we know this has severely impacted many growers. We were disappointed that customers were not allowed back in-store during Alert Level 3.  However, we were pleased that contactless deliveries and takeaways have been allowed, and the benefit has been a slight improvement in sales. Unfortunately, the restaurant and hospitality trade has been hard hit with the Covid-19 restrictions and it will remain difficult times ahead for that sector.  

As you’ll be aware, we have been linking with the HortNZ website to help growers have one place to get the latest updates and advice about COVID-19.  In the past week, there have been updates on government financial assistance, immigration and RSE worker movement.  Click here to view HortNZs’ COVID-19 webpage.

Board meeting in May

The TomatoesNZ board will meet via videoconference for a half day meeting on 20th May, replacing their usual full-day meeting that was due to be held in Auckland.

The main items for discussion will be re-drafting the budget based on the expected impact of Covid-19 on levy income; and discussing and refining a new draft fresh tomato strategy, a process which started in February this year. 

The board has also held short fortnightly video conferences to keep each up to date and discuss the impacts of Covid-19 on growers, which we have been able to feed through to government.

Submission on the Import Health Standard for seeds for sowing

During April TomatoesNZ submitted on the Ministry for Primary Industries ‘Proposed phytosanitary measures for the management of pospiviroids on the importation of seeds for sowing and plants for planting’.

MPI issued a consultation document at the beginning of the year on proposed changes to manage pospoviroids (Columnea latent viroid (CLVd), Tomato apical stunt viroid (TASVd); Tomato chlorotic dwarf viroid (TCVd); Tomato planta macho viroid (TPMVd). We had previously raised concern with MPI that these viruses were not sufficiently covered in the existing Import Health Standard (IHS), so it is pleasing that these are now being addressed. MPI also took the opportunity to review the PSTVd additional declarations in the nursery stock IHS.  

If you would like further information on this please get in contact with me.

Netherlands Trip Report

The full report on Helen’s trip to the Netherlands last November is now available for members. If you would like to have it emailed to you, please contact me.

AGM & Conference plans

Due to restrictions around Covid-19, a decision has been made to postpone this year’s Horticulture Conference, that was due to happen July 29th-31st 2020 at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.  Instead the next conference will be held at the same venue from Wednesday 4th-Friday 6th August 2021.

The TomatoesNZ 2020 AGM will be held on 25th September 2020, along with the HortNZ AGM.  A decision has yet to be made on the venue but this is likely to be in Auckland or Pukekohe.  Regardless of the location, we will be making the AGM available by video-conference so everyone who is not able to attend in person will be able to join by phone, tablet or computer.  We will provide further details on this in the next couple of months.    

We still hope to share research updates and other grower information that we would normally do at the conference through the use of video-conferences and webinars.  Watch this space as we develop this programme.

NZGAP remote audits

New Zealand Good Agricultural Practice (NZGAP) has moved to contactless interaction to keep growers audited during the COVID-19 lockdown and ongoing health and safety restrictions, working closely with the AsureQuality and SGS auditors.

Clevedon based tomato grower, Anthony Tringham was the first grower to be remotely audited. He said that the process went incredibly smoothly.

“The auditor interview was quicker than a regular audit while covering all the necessary checks,” says Anthony. “What would typically be a three-hour face-to-face meeting, took less than an hour virtually.  Plus, in the context of COVID-19, there’s a massive reduction in risk by not having someone visit.
“It was the same work as a regular NZGAP audit, but much more efficient. When doing an audit, I have to compile records of spray diaries and the likes into a Word document anyway. Uploading all these documents to the filesharing platform rather than showing the auditor in person makes a lot of sense to me and could even be part of a future process.”

Further information about this can be read here.  

Biosecurity manual

TomatoesNZ have been working with our colleagues in other product groups to develop a grower biosecurity manual.  This will be available with sections for both covered crops and outdoor crops.  The manual is currently in the final drafting and review stages, and we hope to have the design and printing done next month.  Once completed a copy will be posted to all tomato growers.