A research programme to reduce the use of chemical pesticides on apple orchards has benefited New Zealand’s pipfruit industry by as much as $113 million in export earnings.
Analysis by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has shown that the Apple Futures programme, developed by Plant & Food Research in conjunction with Pipfruit New Zealand, preserved up to $113 million of the pipfruit industry’s revenue over the four years from 2008 to 2011, with a research cost of only $3.2 million.
The Apple Futures programme was designed to successfully control pests and diseases on apple orchards whilst reducing residues on fruit to non-detectable, significantly below the levels required by international market regulations. The programme combines computer modelling for disease prediction, monitoring of insect pests and beneficial organisms and targeted spraying of pesticides to allow growers to intervene with optimised control methods only when required.
“Meeting the entry requirements for different markets is an important consideration in exporting products,” says Declan Graham, Business Manager at Plant & Food Research. “Many countries, particularly in Europe, as well as individual supermarket chains, are putting increasingly stringent requirements on natural produce imports. New Zealand has a reputation for its high quality fruit, and programmes like Apple Futures allow our growers to continue to meet these expectations and target to these important markets.”
“The Apple Futures programme has allowed us to continue exporting our produce to high value markets, generating over $350 million of export earnings for New Zealand each year,” says Dr Mike Butcher, Technical Manager at Pipfruit New Zealand. “New Zealand is well known for applying innovative practices in its horticulture industry and delivering high quality produce to overseas markets. This analysis demonstrates that programmes such as Apple Futures not only have an important impact on the acceptability of our fruit in these markets but are also economically sustainable.”
Apple Futures was introduced in 2007 in Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay, then in Nelson in 2009. By the 2008-9 season, 65% of apples produced were under the Apple Futures programme, meeting the requirements of over 65 countries and being residue-free or with average residues below 10% of EU regulatory tolerances.
The Apple Futures programme was developed with the support of three regional economic development agencies – Hawke’s Bay Incorporated, the Nelson Regional Development Agency and Otago Forward – and New Zealand Trade & Industry. The economic analysis project was supported by AgMARDT.
Watch a video about the Apple Futures programme