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Pea weevils have officially been eradicated in Wairarapa, lifting the four-year pea growing ban in the region.

The Controlled Area Notice in Wairarapa was lifted on Monday in what the government is calling the “world first eradication of pea weevil”.

Because no pea weevils have been found over the past two seasons, pea plants can now be planted, and pea straw can be used for garden bedding material.

Banning the pea weevil’s only food source meant the population died out.

Carterton pea grower Karen Williams who is on the Pea Weevil Governance Group said the next step for industry was to work with seed companies to bring back pea growing contracts.

“It’s been a long four years, with ups and downs, but we have achieved the ultimate result,” she said.

“The decision to eradicate was hard on local pea growers so it is extremely pleasing to see their efforts rewarded.”

Biosecurity New Zealand has been working with Wairarapa farmers since March 2016 to contain pea weevil.

A network of trap crops was set up to flush out the pest so it could be destroyed before it completed its life cycle. Its last detection was in late 2017.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said this was the first time a pea weevil population had been successfully eradicated anywhere in the world.

“This just goes to show what can be achieved when government, industry, and communities work together.

“In this situation we had a good shot at it because the destructive little insect was detected early and in a region with mountain ranges providing some natural borders.”

The CAN is replaced with an amended CAN in an area within a 5km radius of the last known pea weevil detection.

From this area, commercial harvests to be supplied for seed or stock feed will be washed and checked before being transported further.

Peas are an important commercial crop.

Domestic sales are estimated at $50 million, with a growing export market of $80 million a year.