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KiwiNet: an industry network ready to respond


27 June 2019

A network set up to ensure there is plenty of skilled capability ready to respond to the next big biosecurity incursion continues to cement its place within the kiwifruit industry.

Initiated by KVH in late 2014, KiwiNet helps ensure there can be quick deployment of industry resources into biosecurity readiness and response activities. The network is made up of a team of people selected from across the kiwifruit industry, who play a key role in championing biosecurity readiness.

KiwiNet Coordinators - nominated by their respective organisations - have good industry knowledge and awareness of what biosecurity threats are out there and why we need to do everything we can to manage any pest or disease that makes its way across our borders.

Psa and recent Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) incursions have reminded us that there’s always something on our doorstop ready to come through the front door and if it does, we need to be well prepared and able to immediately respond. What makes KiwiNet so great is that everyone involved gets what’s at stake and they know how important it is to be ready.

Coordinators, working alongside KVH, also identify experts that can be called upon in a biosecurity response. There’s a wealth of knowledge throughout the industry and by pooling everything from people, facilities, and equipment, to communication channels, KiwiNet can quickly and effectively mobilise.

KiwiNet meets twice a year for training and education workshops. One recent meeting coincided with an industry-wide Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) practice, testing how prepared the industry is to respond to an incursion of this unwanted bug. KiwiNet members took part and worked through what actions the network would need to take to help manage impacts on orchards and postharvest facilities, to ensure surveillance plans are implemented, and key information about any movement and export restrictions is supplied to growers as quickly as possible. The exercise proved that industry organisations have their own, good, internal mechanisms for quickly joining forces and responding to a biosecurity incursion.

In February 2019, Biosecurity New Zealand’s notifications of fruit fly detections, and the resulting initiating of responses in affected suburbs, triggered KVH to immediately engage KiwiNet.

Within days of the responses being set up, 14 people from the kiwifruit industry were en-route to Auckland to assist with trapping, monitoring, and surveillance. By mid-April the kiwifruit industry had contributed 165 staff days to the responses.

Linda Peacock is the KiwiNet Response Coordinator for KVH, and she spent time working with postharvest operators (where many Coordinators are based) to populate rosters and ensure the right people were being deployed into the field.

“We had 32 industry people working as part of the wider response team, made up of hundreds of people. Most of our people were working on fruit collection and inspection, trapping, surveying, and public education by way of door knocking and attending events like the Otara market.”

“We’ve been really pleased with the level of support and engagement from across the industry, and the keenness to provide people to be trained and deployed with very short notice. The feedback we’ve had is that kiwifruit people working in Auckland were always well prepared, very committed, and willing to help out in any way possible.”

“We can all take reassurance from this response that KiwiNet functions well and the people that are part of it are well trained, with exceptional skills and expertise that will be of benefit to our industry and others in any future response.”

KiwiNet was established as part of industry’s commitment to readiness and response planning under Government Industry Agreements (GIA) and is part of the National Biosecurity Capability Network (NBCN), which is New Zealand’s field capability team deployed during a biosecurity response. It is a joint initiative between MPI and AsureQuality and is made up of more than 120 organisations, which have agreed to commit their skills and resources.