NZ: Chinese grape imports carry fruit fly risk

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NZ: Chinese grape imports carry fruit fly risk

The New Zealand government has approved an offshore quarantine arrangement for Chinese table grape imports, following a similar deal for local apples bound for the Asian country.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's (MAF) Plant Standards team says it has worked with Chinese authorities to develop import health standards and quality assurance programs.

MAF Plant Imports and Exports manager Stephen Butcher, highlights a similar system has existed between New Zealand and Australia for decades, as pre-border assurance is more efficient than just inspecting goods on arrival.

"We investigate and make sure we understand the whole product pathway and assess risks before signing the agreement. We can then agree on suitable official assurance programmes, which are formally signed off," he said.

"When we assess, we look for documented evidence of activities such as spray diaries and training of their inspectors."

The agreement recognizes the fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis and mite Tetranychus kanzawai as particular risks that could be carried with Chinese grapes, along with fruit fly Drosiphila suzukii as an emerging pest that uses table grapes as a host.

An MAF release says Chinese authorities will register all vineyards with grapes for export to New Zealand under an official assurance program.

But New Zealand wine growers have raised concerns about the agreement as it is difficult to know and identify all potential pests overseas, Radio New Zealand reported.

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