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The New Zealand potato industry is worried the fallout from a devastating crop disease means it won’t be long before some growers quit the industry, according to Radio New Zealand.

A report commissioned by Potatoes New Zealand calculates the insect pest has cost the industry more than $120 million in crop losses and control measures since it was first found in New Zealand in 2006.

The report says the cost last year alone was $28 million, or 20% of the farm-gate value of New Zealand’s potato crop.

The organisation Potatoes New Zealand is seeking more government funding to tackle the tomato-potato psyllid that spreads a disease which causes leaf yellowing, kills plants and disfigures potato tubers.

Potatoes New Zealand chairman Terry Olsen was quoted by Radio New Zealand saying the report drives home the seriousness of the psyllid threat and says it is beyond the means of his organisation to solve on its own.

Potatoes New Zealand has already spent or committed more than $1 million to fight the pest, including support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s sustainable farming fund and Plant and Food Research.

But Olsen says there’s no more money and there will be growers and processors who will go under unless it can get more research funding and others will be discouraged from planting in the first place.

He says the government has encouraged the potato industry to apply to the Primary Growth Partnership fund for research money and it will now try that approach. Source: Radio New Zealandhttp://www.radionz.co.nz/news/rural/83845/potato-industry-seeks-help-to-survive-crop-disease

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