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Call the pea police

By Seamus Boyer
[email protected]

How do you ban people from growing peas? That would seem to be the question after the shock news yesterday that the crop will be banned throughout Wairarapa for the next two years. The Ministry of Primary Industries announced the ban after populations of pea weevil were found on eight different Wairarapa properties and three seed storage facilities in the region.
It is understood there are about 1400ha of pea crops and about 100 growers in the region.
And it’s not just farmers that will suffer, with home growers set to be banned as well.
An MPI spokeswoman said Wairarapa home vegetable growers would be asked not to plant peas for the next two seasons. It seems a heavy-handed response but, given the potential damage, a necessary one. Pea weevil larvae feed on young peas, damaging crops.
Larvae tunnel inside, eating the contents, leaving the affected peas foul and unfit to eat.
If the weevils are not eradicated, it could spread throughout the country.
Nobody wants this, as a world with only canned or frozen peas is unthinkable.
And what would this do to the prices if the problem became widespread?
So, we may need a pea police, which seems impractical, unless people start dobbing in their neighbours.
I can imagine the call to MPI. “Hello, is that the pea patrol? “I’d like to alert you to Mrs White on So-and-so St.
“I’ve noticed a lot of curly green vines creeping over the fence of late. “And she seems to be cooking a lot of pea and ham soup and spring risotto.”
The situation quickly becomes ridiculous.
More information on just how MPI will enforce a ban is yet to be announced. But what is clear is that the ramifications will be huge for commercial and backyard growers.
Christmas dinner without freshly picked peas just won’t be the same.

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