Yet another blow for farmers: New Zealand BANS the importation of Australian fruit and vegetables after virus is found on watermelons
- Plant virus detected on Australian watermelons from Northern Territory
- Virus first detected in 2014, almost wiped out $60 million watermelon industry
- Soil-borne plant virus – which affects crops – is not harmful to humans in any way
In yet another blow for farmers, New Zealand has temporarily banned the importation of some Australian produce after a plant virus was spotted on a batch of Australian watermelons.
New Zealand authorities confirmed the detection of Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV) on watermelons produced in the Northern Territory a fortnight ago.
As a result, authorities opted to suspend some imports from August 20 onwards.
CGMMV is a soil-borne plant virus which affects cucurbits such as watermelons, pumpkins, zucchinis and cucumbers – but is not harmful to humans.
Watermelon producers in every Australian except Queensland have seen their produce banned from entry to New Zealand
The plant virus was first detected in the Northern Territory’s Katherine region back in 2014.
Back then it decimated the lucrative watermelon industry, with the damage costing an estimated $60 million.
The virus has recently been discovered on farms in Queensland and Western Australia.
Dianne Fullelove, from the Australian Melon Association, confirmed the infected fruit discovered across the Tasman originated from a Northern Territory farm.
‘This virus is extremely difficult to eradicate from soil once it is present on a farm, so it is unfortunate for that farm that they are still getting outbreaks of the virus,’ she said.
‘[New Zealand] is our third, almost second, largest market for melons, so we are very keen to maintain the trade with New Zealand.
‘The Commonwealth departments are working together to find a resolution.’
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE CGMMV VIRUS?
*A soil-borne plant virus which affects cucurbit crops such as watermelons, pumpkins, zucchinis and cucumbers
*Not harmful to humans in any way
*First detected in the Northern Territory back in 2014
The latest produce setback will have some farmers at their wits end.
Despite much needed recent rain across eastern Australia, some farmers are struggling to cope with the driest conditions endured in more than 50 years.
In some cases, graziers have been forced to kill their own stock after running out of hay and grain due to the severe conditions.