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New Zealand’s Garlic Growers Almost Extinct

Not sure it will make them feel better, but America’s garlic growers are not alone in their struggles. In New Zealand, there are only four growers left:

New Zealand’s garlic industry is on the verge of collapse, say growers.

Marlborough is recognized as one of the best places in the world to grow garlic, but the four remaining growers are under severe pressure from wine grapes, cheap Chinese imports and bureaucracy.

The growers met Green MP Sue Kedgley near Blenheim yesterday to plead for an industry lifeline.

Grower Pat Murphy said the number of Marlborough growers had dropped from 16 to just four over the past 10 years because it was too difficult to import seed stock.

Less than 100ha of garlic was now grown commercially.

Any imported garlic-seed stock had to go into quarantine before planting to avoid spreading a virus that affected other plants in the alliums family, such as onions.

It took three years from importation to plantation.

Using the same strain over and over again caused virus problems and reduced the size of garlic.

Meanwhile, cheap Chinese product could simply be imported, purchased at the supermarket and planted by home gardeners.

“It is the height of arrogance for Biosecurity New Zealand to require what they require of the Argentine (seed) suppliers. No-one will ever guarantee that allium species are virus-free,” Murphy said.

The virus was probably established in New Zealand.

New Zealand garlic is four times the price of Chinese imports but is three times more potent.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman, who owns a garlic marketing company, said customers both in New Zealand and overseas were crying out for the quality New Zealand product.

Kedgley said it was a classic example of the risk to New Zealand produce from imports.

It seems like the Kiwis are fighting their own bureaucracy as much as the Chinese. We wonder if there is a marketing opportunity in a more potent garlic — from New Zealand or California — sort of like those laundry detergents that have been promoted as requiring smaller quantities.

Maybe some signage pointing out consumers can save money by using less of this stronger garlic?

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