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Kiwifruit growers’ orchards saved after spray ruled safe for use

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) announced a decision that hydrogen cyanamide, an active ingredient in sprays such as Hi-Cane, may continue to be used in New Zealand. Hydrogen cyanamide had initially been under review by the EPA as a carcinogen, however the authority reversed this when they found no evidence to support the claim.

Kiwifruit grower's advocacy group New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) has led the industry to advocate strongly for the retention of Hi-Cane since the EPA's call for information on the chemical in 2019. A ban would have had a massive economic impact on the country's most valuable horticulture export, closing orchards and hurting the communities that rely on the industry's prosperity.

Hi-Cane, used once per year on kiwifruit orchards, is a critical chemical for the success of the kiwifruit industry. It promotes uniform bud break of flowers, ultimately maximising the production of high-quality kiwifruit. It has allowed our industry to remain competitive and profitable in the markets to which we export.

NZKGI CEO Colin Bond says, "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the growers and wider stakeholders who fought for the continued use of Hi-Cane. That the EPA's Decision-Making Committee has decided for the retention of hydrogen cyanamide speaks for the industry's collaborative response through many years of hard work. Growers and the communities who rely on our industry's success will be relieved that the EPA have made the right decision to retain its use.

"Hi-Cane is a vital tool for kiwifruit growers and its retention will help support a booming industry. Despite the decision today, we will continue to protect our workers and environment and we are committed to an ongoing programme of continuous improvement and best practice that focuses on safe spraying practices both from a human and environmental health perspective.

"The industry has adopted a coordinated approach to maintain safe spraying practice over many years mandating low-drift technologies in relation to buffer zones and going above and beyond the required standards. It comes with some new controls, and we will now analyse the impact of these restrictions and consult with our growers on this in the near future.

"Unfortunately this reassessment has been a marathon, costing our small advocacy organization most of our retained earnings to fight. The doubt that has been cast on our industry over the last several years has had serious consequences on the well-being of our growers as well as creating financial uncertainty across the industry. Orchard prices have dropped significantly throughout the assessment, which will be partially attributable to the risk felt by investors. The reassessment would have no doubt inhibited growth at a time when export earnings are critical for our national economy," concludes Bond.

For more information:
Mike Murphy
Tel: 0800 232 505
Email: [email protected]

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