|Tuesday, 29 January 2013 14:02|
To access markets for fresh fruit and vegetables, Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) have had to conduct research on quarantine treatments that are environmentally friendly, safe for the consumers and relatively inexpensive. The phasing out of chemical fumigants that were used as conventional quarantine treatments for fruit flies has prompted PICTs to carry out research on heat treatments using High temperature Forced Air (HTFA) or also known as forced hot air (HFA) and the non-Host Status.
Before research on quarantine treatment was carried out, fruit fly rearing laboratories were established for economic fruit fly species in Fiji Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG, Palau and FSM. This enabled a consistent supply of insects that were used in quarantine treatment research.
The Non-Host Status standard specified in the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Regulatory authority Standard 155.02.02 Specification for Determination of Host Status as a Treatment, was developed to assist PICTs export fresh fruits and vegetables to New Zealand without additional quarantine treatments. This standard aims to determine the susceptibility of the fruit or vegetable that is tested to fruit flies. There have been numerous fruit and vegetables tested under this standard in the above-mentioned PICTs.
Fiji Islands has exported to New Zealand two chilli varieties, "Hot Rod" and "Red Fire" without the use of other quarantine treatments. Chilli exporters are required to follow an approved quarantine pathway before export takes place. The total export of these two varieties of chilli, from 1994 to 1999, was over 112 tonnes.
Vanuatu has proved that pineapples, cucumbers and squash are not hosts to Bactrocera trilineola, and have already started exporting cucumber and squash. "Long Red Cayenne" chilli and Tahitian lime are also non-hosts and, subject to New Zealand accepting the results and subject to developing acceptable quarantine pathways, Vanuatu may export these commodities as well.
Cook Islands is exporting "Birds Eye" chilli to New Zealand. New Caledonia is exporting Tahitian limes to New Zealand, on a non-host status. The export value in 1998 was NZD 89.000. Samoa exports green bananas to new Zealand (152 tonnes in 1998), a good substitute to taro that has been decimated by taro leaf blight since 1993.
Heat treatment development in the PICTs involved the determination of the heat tolerances or susceptibilities of the pest species and conducting small-scale or large-scale tests to determine the efficacy of the forced hot air (FHA) treatment. Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Tonga, New Caledonia and Samoa have carried out research on development of heat tolerance data and confirmatory tests to determine the treatment parameters of the FHA. In the Cook Islands, the treatment parameter is 47°C and the fruits are held for 20 minutes at this prescribed temperature. In Fiji Islands, the treatment parameter is to raise the core temperature of the largest fruit placed in the coldest spot in the FHA chamber to 47.2°C and then holding it at that temperature for 20 minutes and then hydrocooling it.
The development of HFA treatments in these PICTs has enabled the export of fresh papaya (Hawaiian "Waimanalo" and "Sunrise" varieties), mango (assorted varieties) and eggplant to New Zealand. The value of these export markets are:
Fiji Islands was granted the approval to export HFA treated breadfruit in late 1999. The actual export of breadfruit to New Zealand started in 2001 with a total of 2,063 kilograms recorded to be exported that year. Birds Eye chilies using the non-host status, was also given the approval in 2002 to Fiji and exports had been on-going ever since. Papaya exports had also been given the approval by Australia in 1994 and exports have continued to increase every year..
HTFA (High Temperature Forced Air) unit for fruit treatment in Nadi, Fiji. Tonga, Cook Islands.
New Caledonia, Samoa and Vanuatu also have similar HTFA units. (Photo: L. Leblanc and N Waqa)
Loading papaya into HTFA unit for treatment (Photo: L. Leblanc)
High quality Fiji papayas exported to New Zealand (Photos: L. Leblanc)