By Gemma Carroll, Communications & Engagement Officer
Throughout the start of Spring, PNZ has been heavily involved with MPI Biosecurity, in response to PMTV being found in several Canterbury farms.
The virus was first detected at a processing plant in Canterbury in mid-September and the wheels were set in motion to engage, under the Government Industry Agreement (GIA), in a joint response to the incursion.
This has involved much travel to our major growing centres, daily meetings with MPI, covering logistics, stakeholder communications, public information, media, technical intelligence gathering and research with domestic and international experts. The response is ongoing and as we move to a transition phase, this will become an industry led management, with MPI continuing to provide testing and technical assistance in the background.
It has been the first such joint response under the GIA and has been a learning opportunity for both the ministry and industry.
It has become clear that on-farm hygiene practice will become of the upmost importance in managing the virus, as eradication is highly unlikely. The vector for PMTV is powdery scab, which is very common in New Zealand soils. It is hoped that if farmers can control powdery scab, they lessen their risk of spreading PMTV.
Testing has begun voluntarily in the north island, with no suspected or infected farms there so far.
The introduction of the virus is unknown and will be extremely difficult to trace.
In the background to all this activity, we continue business as usual and have been working on our next industry event, which should bring a little fun into the potato community, as summer approaches.
November Means New Potatoes 2018, will be held on the 8th November in central Auckland and promises to be an evening of quirky, tasty fun, as we celebrate the new season launch, sample growers’ seasonal varieties, compete in a blind tasting session and meet growers and their teams to hear more about the back-story to New Zealand’s favourite vegetable.
We cannot forget the status of the potato, as the world’s 4th ranked staple food, behind, rice, wheat and maize.
November is the time PNZ likes to shine a light on our own abundant potato industry and we encourage Food writers and media alike to participate in this event.
We are delighted to have Annabelle White as our celebrity speaker and she is excited to be compering the blind tastings too.
If you are interested in attending or participating do not hesitate to contact Gemma Carroll firstname.lastname@example.org, if not this year then next. Over time we’d like to see this event grow into a festival of sorts, much like the approach the French take to the launch of a new wine.
PNZ were one of the main sponsors at the NZ Guild of Food Writers Conference in early October and the day proved to be a wonderful opportunity for PNZ to connect directly with writer activities, consumer/media trends and to have our produce featured in the lunch menu, as starter, main and dessert. PNZ is a much loved group by writers and NZGFW provide the potato industry with platforms to inform, re-imagine and share recipes, food stories and eating experiences. This is an important relationship for PNZ which we will continue to foster and grow.
If you don’t already follow us on one of our social media platforms, then do go online and search for us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It’s an opportunity to share ideas, have a laugh, contribute to potato enthusiasm #spudlove and keep informed of our latest activities.