NZ STRUGGLING W/ PSYLLID

Published online: Apr 19, 2011 Insecticide, Fungicide
Web Exclusive
Potatoes New Zealand says the potato industry is struggling to deal with the tomato/potato psyllid, which spreads the damaging bacterium Liberibacter, and wants more help from the government.

The psyllid, discovered in New Zealand in 2006, is estimated to have caused some $50 million worth of damage to the potato industry alone in the 2008/9 season.

Murray Turley is the vice president of Potatoes New Zealand and the chairman of its research and development investment group. He says the 200 or so growers who make up the industry have been investing in research, and spending on average $700 a hectare to try to control the psyllid's spread, but funds are stretched.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister David Carter says the Government has already contributed a substantial amount to psyllid research and the industry can't expect any more handouts. He says the Ministry of Agriculture funded the initial response to the pysllid pest when it was discovered.

Mr Carter says MAF's sustainable farming fund has also given potato growers more than $1 million to manage the pest.

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