Banning palm kernel shipment the right decision

18 Oct 2016

Elaeis guineensis fruits on tree

Ever since the MV Molat turned up off the coast of Tauranga carrying 23,000 tonnes of unverified Malaysian palm kernel, we have been concerned about it landing, and the potential biosecurity threats that it may have brought.

Pests simply cannot be allowed to enter our country given how dependent New Zealand’s economy is on the primary sector.

As such, it’s good news to find out that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has banned the shipment from entering New Zealand. The palm kernel expeller, which is used as a supplementary animal feed, hadn’t come from an approved facility and so, in the end, there was no way to satisfy MPI that there was no risk of pests and disease entering the country.

While it took six weeks, this is the right decision. No doubt it will leave an angry importer, but our borders need to be protected and we need to send the clear message that they are. It’s not as though we’re the only ones doing this either; there have certainly been times when border controllers in countries we export to block our shipments and ask questions.

Biosecurity is the number one concern our growers most worry about. A serious incursion has the potential to wipe out not just individual businesses, but entire crops, so we work closely with MPI on biosecurity matters to ensure the safest possible outcomes.

Not only that, but we are now in the season when we need to be most alert; keep your eyes open and if you see anything suspicious catch it, snap it (get a photograph), and report it to the exotic pest and disease hotline at 0800 80 99 66.

-Mike Chapman, CEO