New Zealand growers happy with additional biosecurity measures

New Zealand horticulturalists appear to be pleased with recent government efforts to tighten biosecurity measures.

Forty-six new staff members were added to the ranks of biosecurity frontline staff and two new dog teams began patrolling airports for exotic pests and diseases that could potentially pose a risk to crop yields already diminished by disease, according to

Fruit growers have been pressuring officials in Auckland to bring back stricter controls, including taking x-rays of every bag.

"That's really boosted the front line, definitely, and the increase was exactly what we wanted, and closes some of the gaps we were concerned about," Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton said, reports.

Fenton said that the additional staff will encourage the public to become more vigilant with regards to biosecurity and help to prevent foreign species from entering the country. Horticulture exports are worth approximately $2.5 billion to the New Zealand economy. Growers have suffered from recent losses due to imported diseases.

Some have noted, however that, while the additions are needed, the extra staff are only filling holes left by previous restructuring.

"For several months there was no dog inspection unit at Wellington Airport, and there have been serious staff shortages in Christchurch and at the Auckland port because vacancies have not been filled after staff left," Richard Wagstaff, the director of the Public Service Association, New Zealand's largest union, said, reports.