BECKIE WILSON

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Two stallholders at a Carterton and Featherston market have been found selling pea seeds and plants 16 months after a total ban was placed on the them by the Ministry of Primary Industries [MPI].

MPI yesterday confirmed the non-compliance at the markets, and is checking another “possible sighting” from the public who attended the Wairarapa Garden Tour recently.

The total ban of growing peas in Wairarapa and Pahiatua was introduced last July after the pea weevil was found on various properties across the region.

The ministry placed controls on the movement of any pea material, including seeds and untreated pea straw, within that period.

Pea weevil larvae feed on peas, so the growing ban would eradicate the insect.

MPI inspectors visited markets in Featherston, Carterton and Masterton earlier this month to check compliance was being met.

“Two stallholders were selling pea seeds and pea plants. The inspectors instructed them to remove the products immediately and provided them with copies of the Controlled Area Notice (CAN) and pea weevil information leaflets,” a MPI spokesperson said

“Most stallholders were fully aware of, and compliant with, the restrictions in place.”

At the markets, some stallholders were handing out information on the pea ban “which is an encouraging sign that people understand the need to work together to address the issue”.

Arable industry representative and Gladstone farmer Karen Williams said it was concerning that pea seeds and plants were being sold in the region.

She wondered how, with all information and signs across the region, could anyone not have seen them.

“I don’t know whether it is ignorance or blatant disregard,” she said.

“The locals are taking a big hit and getting behind the ban — all it takes is one person [to ignore the ban].”

Mrs Williams said everyone had to come together and make sure no peas were grown or bought into the region, preventing the survival of pea weevil.

It was vital for the region’s industry that local gardens and market goers do not plant, buy or sell the plants, she said.

If the insect was found in the trap crop, the ban would be extended. This would affect the local cropping farmers who are suffering from the ban, she said.

In the controlled area, garden peas, sugar snap/snow peas, pea seeds and straw cannot be grown.

If anyone thinks they see peas growing in Wairarapa, they are encouraged to call the MPI hotline 0800 809 966.