[29 June/ Stuff]

Comvita has said Myrtle rust does not pose a large risk to the multi-million dollar mānuka honey industry and was reassured by the way the disease had not damaged equivalent plants in Australia, especially in Tasmania. In 2016, the honey industry made $315 million in exports, mostly from mānuka. The industry has set a $1.2 billion in exports target for mānuka honey by 2028. There are now 77 properties affected by the disease. Comvita is taking preventative measures against the rust spread such as educating beekeepers to recognise and report the rust, including educating beekeepers to recognise and report it; inspecting Comvita nursery stock destined for extensive plantings; treating plants before they leave nurseries; investing in mobile hive units so hives can be moved and relocated should myrtle rust be detected. Comvita is also researching ways to make plants in its plant breeding programme resistant to the rust