Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is warning travelling Kiwis to be vigilant as the high-season for the crop-eating brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is under way.
He says they are an amazing fruit Kiwis take for granted.
“Once a year, everyone picks them up off the ground, puts them in a plastic bag and shares them with friends and family,” O’Connor told the Horticulture Conference 2019 at Mystery Creek..
“Feijoas have huge potential. People say ‘they don’t last long so we can’t do anything with them’, but if we [started] varietal development and selection as they did with kiwifruit we could have another amazing export fruit.”
He suggests renaming feijoa as was done with Chinese gooseberries which became kiwifruit.
O’Connor says NZ has shown it can produce quality products in which people see health value and good eating.
“Among the many varieties must be some we can develop. I like them but I am not obsessed with them and just see this as a lost opportunity.”
O’Connor met a group of enthusiastic growers trying to form a cooperative but it didn’t go far enough.
Disease challenges exist but science could address those as for other fruits.
“We... need a development programme and hopefully would get a positive outcome,” he said.