Changes to Importing Seeds into NZ – What you need to know

There are some changes to the way seeds are to be imported into the country, and this could effect those of you out there that get seeds from growers overseas or win them at auction online.  This post is specifically talking about pumpkin varieties but could effect others as well, check out the links at the bottom to find out where to check.

When did the changes come into effect ?

December the 1st 2014

Why the changes?

One of MPI’s key roles is to ensure that importing goods are not harbouring unwanted pests or disease. MPI places regulations on products to protect New Zealand from Biosecurity risk.

New regulations for Cucurbitaceae seed ( including Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata and Cucurbita pepo) have been put in place as of December 1st 2014 to protect New Zealand from the Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV)

Visual Symptoms of Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus
Visual Symptoms of Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus

What are the changes?

Along with the general requirements for import outlined in Part A of the Import Health Standard for Seed for Sowing (, you will also now also need to meet the requirements outlined in the Cucurbitaceae schedule (see page 36-37). Please note that you will require a phytosanitary certificate with the additional declarations outlined in the Schedule.

All seeds must be tested and found to be free from Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus. A phytosanitary certificate with the required additional declaration is needed to verify testing results.

Is this a permanent thing?

These are current emergency measures and for the time being, testing is our prefer method of stopping this viral disease from entering New Zealand. MPI will consider other management options in due course. However, with a current outbreak in Australia being so close to our shores, MPI is taking this disease very seriously. Hence this is why only cucurbitaceae seeds tested and found free of CGMMV are being allowed entry into the country.

 What happens to seeds that are sent into the country without a certificate?

If Cucurbitaceae seeds arrive in New Zealand without a compliant phytosanitary certificate, and the importer is unable to provide this document, the importer will be given the option to reship, destroy the seeds at their own cost or to have them sampled and tested in New Zealand at an MPI approved laboratory. The sampling and testing plan must be approved by MPI.

What sort of quantity of seeds does this cover?

golden leader

The current Import Health Standard for Cucurbitaceae was drafted to cover all quantity of seeds arriving to the country, bulk and small.  MPI is actively working on this subject to make sure that the Cucurbitaceae industry in New Zealand is free from this pathogen.

How to get seeds?

As stated above and in the document the seeds that you have coming into the country need the phytosanitary certificate with them.  You could risk not having that, but it may cost you in the long run and your seeds maybe destroyed.

From discussions I’ve been involved with, gett the photosanitary certificate done in the US would cost around $50-70, no matter how many seeds there are.  The best way to do it is to get a whole bunch tested at once to bring the cost per seed right down.

As for getting this sort of testing done here in NZ, I’m unsure of the cost and a whole bunch more research will need to be done to work all of this out, and to find out the best most cost efficient way of doing this.

Further reading:

Check out the MPI Website for all the information in regards to seeds and all the tools they have to help you.

Big thanks to Gareth for the heads up about this, and help from Amie at MPI for answering the questions I had.

If you have any comments on this, ideas or anything else you would like contribute to this blog post article, please leave a comment below, or get hold of me via the contact page.


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