Exports of fresh potatoes to Fiji were valued at around $20 million in 2017, demonstrating the value of the Fiji market to the NZ potato industry and indicating it is a market that we need to nurture.
PNZ recently had the privilege of attending a meeting between MPI and Fijian Biosecurity Authority (BAF) at which the quality and phytosanitary requirements of NZ potatoes, was a key topic highlighted by BAF. Concerns were raised about the quality of potatoes arriving in Fiji, particularly sprouting, soil, rots and insects. Pre-empting some of the issues raised by BAF, PNZ had already developed a Fiji Export Potato Grade Standard. This standard had been developed for exporters to enable them to be aware of the quality expectations of Fiji and provide them with a decision-making tool when carrying out product inspections.
To assure BAF that PNZ is committed to ensuring the delivery of good quality potatoes, which meet phytosanitary requirements, PNZ intends to employ an “out-turn inspector” in Fiji. The role of the out-turn inspector will be to check the quality of potatoes as they arrive in Fiji and to review quality throughout the supply chain in Fiji. BAF are fully supportive of this role and are providing assistance by facilitating access into the port and warehouses for inspections.
Soon after the meeting in Fiji discussing quality and phytosanitary requirements, PMTV was detected in NZ. Our larger overseas markets (including Fiji), were notified of this detection. MPI communicated to Fiji, that based on technical information, they considered the current phytosanitary requirements sufficient to address the risk of the introduction of PMTV, into Fiji, from NZ fresh potatoes.
We are currently in a position of building confidence with BAF, that NZ potatoes can arrive in Fiji in good quality and that we are actively managing phytosanitary requirements. As the end of the 2017/18 season approaches, the quality and shelf-life of potatoes may not be as good, as it is for potatoes stored for shorter periods. As such, we have requested exporters be more diligent than ever, to ensure export potatoes to Fiji, meet quality and phytosanitary requirements.