May 15 2014

Monthly Update - May 2014

Macrolophus application declined

We were disappointed to hear on the 28th of April that our application to import Macrolophus pygmeaus for release has been declined by the Environmental Protection Authority.

The independent panel that assessed our application determined “that the adverse effects of the organism outweigh the positive effects” .  A link to their full report can be found on

The TomatoesNZ board are very disappointed with this outcome, as I am sure all tomato growers will be.  Access to new, sustainable pest control options is important to growers, and we believe to New Zealanders who value New Zealand grown tomatoes.  TNZ spent considerable time, effort and money on evaluating options for whitefly control, and on this application. We felt that we provided the information required under the HSNO Act, and that Macrolophus would not widely establish outside the greenhouse, however the panel took a different view.  We will now have to go and re-look at the limited remaining options for whitefly pest control.

SFF project proposal not funded

There was further disappointment last month when we learnt that our funding application for the “Fresher by Sea” project, submitted to the MPI Sustainable Farming Fund, was declined. The project was designed to develop protocols for postharvest technologies to allow sea freight of tomatoes and capsicums beyond Australia. As this is an important part of TNZ’s strategy to grow exports, we will look at other opportunities for co-funding for this project. We weren’t the only vegetable product group disappointed by this SFF funding round, with only one project out of the half-dozen or so submitted by vegetable industries receiving funding.     

Government Industry Agreements

The TomatoesNZ board is seeking grower mandate to sign the Deed for Government Industry Agreements on Biosecurity. We will be sending information about this to directly to tomato growers this month, and plan to submit a remit to the AGM on the 24th of June seeking grower agreement to sign the Deed. Grower meetings to discuss this are planned for Christchurch and Auckland on the 19th and 23rd of May.

If you wish to discuss the TNZ’s plans to sign the Deed, please get in touch with Nikki Johnson from Market Access Solutionz, who is assisting us in this process on, or 021 773 501.

New board member

One nomination was received for membership of the TNZ board – Stefan Vogrincic of Auckland.  Incumbent elected board members Malcolm Pook (Auckland) and Tony Norton (Canterbury) who were up for retirement by rotation made themselves available for re-election and were deemed nominated. As there were four vacancies for elected board members (including two unfilled vacancies), all three will be appointed without a vote.  Stefan will attend his first board meeting this month. He has provided a brief biography below.

As a young lad I grew up on a dairy farm, this is where my passion for agriculture and horticulture began. In 1993 I completed a horticulture course and have been involved in the horticulture industry ever since.  I first started working for Steve Gellert at his cucumber and tomato production unit.  After 13 months my father and I built a 1,500 m2 glasshouse growing tomatoes in Drury, South Auckland.  We doubled that to 3,000 m2 in early 2000.  In 2007 I travelled to England to work and play cricket.  I worked for Wight Salads which were based on the Isle of Wight growing conventional and organic produce, mainly tomatoes in 25 hectares approximately.  I found the exposure to growing in another country hugely beneficial.

 For the past five years I have been working with Gellerts Nursery , within Sales and Technical Advice.   Over the last two years I have also had the opportunity, via Gellerts, to work for the Dutch substrate company Cultilene, giving Technical support to growers in New Zealand and Australia.  I am currently growing a small truss tomato at the home property.  My greenhouse is used as a demonstration house for both Gellerts and Cultilene customers.

 I would like to be able to contribute to the TomatoesNZ board the broad view of industry that my job allows me through engagement within NZ and Australia.  I am interested in technology and the importance this will play in the future.  I see TomatoesNZ playing an important role in improving technology affordability and working with growers and government to achieve this.

Conference – still funding available

There is still time to register, and there is still funding available for fresh tomato growers to assist your attendance at this year’s conference on the 24th of June in Auckland.  There is more information on the conference and how to claim the funding on our website or please phone Lynda on 04 494 9972.

A reminder that we have UK Integrated Pest Management specialist Dr. Rob Jacobsen visiting here speaking at conference and doing grower visits during the week of conference.

Goodbye, for now

I am due to have my forth baby in mid-June, and will be on maternity leave by the time you read this column.  Melanie Dingle will be filling in for me as Business Manager while I am on leave for up to a year. You can get in touch with Mel though the HortNZ office on grower free phone 0508 467 869.