Friday, 27 July 2018

No room for complacency as Ravensdown manages biosecurity risk


Biosecurity Week is a great way to start the discussion around how every member of society can play its part in protecting our borders from unwanted and potentially devastating pests.

As an importer of over one million tonnes of raw materials, minerals and bulk fertiliser from overseas, Ravensdown has a key role to play in the creation of food in New Zealand. This also means we must have systems in place to ensure any biosecurity threat is minimised. As a co-operative owned by farmers, this responsibility is even more important and we invest time, money and effort to do everything we can to minimise risk at the source.

Fifty days after leaving a port in Saudi Arabia or South Korea, the fertiliser could be being applied to a paddock in Stratford - so the stakes are high.

The co-operative’s MPI-approved system of importing fertilisers focuses on places in the journey where steps can be taken to reduce or eliminate risk. These are what are known as critical control points. Checking the product is clean before and after loading on to a ship is an example.

Checks also need to be in place during transport and storage so the product remains free of contamination such as grains, seeds, weeds or feathers.

Independent auditing, inspection and sampling are as important as good relationships with reliable suppliers. Everybody is left in no doubt how important minimising the biosecurity risk is. If corrective steps can’t be taken, the supplier is changed.

Because of this effort up front and out there, by the time the product arrives there is little to do at the border and MPI designates Ravensdown bulk-imported fertiliser as low risk. MPI consider Ravensdown a trusted biosecurity partner and a highly compliant importer of bulk inorganic fertiliser.

But there is no room for complacency given the consequences of a breach. Every week has to be biosecurity week for a co-operative like ours.