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Certification of seed potatoes in New Zealand is provided by the New Zealand Seed Potato Certification Authority, which runs a national quality assurance programme. The Authority is a subcommittee of Potatoes New Zealand Inc.
The Authority is a completely independent agent of the potato industry. The Authority establishes the seed potato certification rules, including disease tolerances, and has the task of ensuring seed potatoes are true-to-type. This is done by contracting independent, specialised inspectors from international quality assurance companies SGS and AsureQuality to visually inspect crops in the field as well as tubers after harvesting.
Whilst membership of the NZ Seed Potato Certification Scheme is voluntary, growers cannot sell certified seed potatoes (the kind of seed potatoes buyers want) without signing up to the programme, following its rules and undergoing its inspections.
The key activities for the NZSPCA, which were identified in the strategic plan were to:
- Review the rules for quality assurance and certification (overseen by the NZSPCA technical committee)
- Review the capacity of inspection providers to perform necessary tasks
- Specifically the availability of qualified, competent inspectors at peak times
- Review the alignment of the seed certification authority with the best interests of the industry overall
Previously in 2005, Potatoes New Zealand had undertaken a review of the seed potato certification operations, processes and rules, and is in the process of adopting several recommendations. Read the full review findings.