"NZ: "Biggest issue facing sector is the damage to transport infrastructure"

After a high magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand over the weekend the country’s infrastructure has suffered major damage. Likewise, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake has brought transportation to a complete stop in parts of the South Island, leaving residents, tourists, and goods stuck in the affected area.

This seismic activity then triggered a small tsunami that brought waves 8 feet high to the country, according to CNN. Aftershocks have also continued to roll into the country with a series of over 42 earthquakes, all registering between magnitudes of 2 and 6. Aftershocks were experienced even further, with individuals reporting effects felt all the way to the country’s North Island.

The chief executive of HortNZ, Mike Chapman says the reports they have had so far from growers in areas affected by the quake suggest there has been no damage to glass houses.

He says the biggest issue facing the sector is the damage to transport infrastructure. Chapman says the problem is getting produce across the Cook Strait and the state of the road network from Picton to Christchurch. He says the HortNZ board will be meeting soon to work out how best to meet this challenge.

In a matter of weeks, stone fruit from Central Otago will be ready and Chapman says they may have to consider shipping this from Dunedin or Timaru to the North Island as SH1 from Christchurch to Picton will almost certainly be closed.

Ironically he says, the coastal shipping option may be cheaper than the normal road transport system.

Maersk have reported disruptions to their services due to the earthquake.

A spokesperson from Zespri Said that Monday night’s earthquakes will not affect the 2016 NZ kiwifruit sales season. There are no orchards or post-harvest operations based in the affected areas of Kaikoura, Wellington and Hamner, and their shipping programme is coming to an end for the season.

Federated Farmers is fielding plenty of offers of help for North Canterbury farmers affected by the earthquakes but the big challenge is reaching those who may be most in need.

The number 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646) was set up for farmers to tell us what they need, and for us to match them up with people making offers of assistance, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson, Katie Milne, says.

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