Behind the Scenes at House of Kojo - Our Interview with Andrew at APHA - House of Kojo

Behind the Scenes at House of Kojo - Our Interview with Andrew at APHA

We were lucky enough to have Andrew stop by again at the House of Kojo Nursery.

Andrew is a Plant Health and Seeds Inspector with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). The agency is responsible for animal, plant and bee health.  Since House of Kojo has been designated a POD (Point of Destination) for plant deliveries, this means we are registered with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as a facility where inspectors like Andrew can come to do their plant health import checks after customs clearance with goods from the EU.  Since we do this, House of Kojo is fortunate enough to have our plants inspected at our warehouse on a regular basis.  It also means we get to ask Andrew questions from Import Regulations to Plant Passports to Pests.  

Andrew, when your Agency comes to our House of Kojo warehouse, what exactly are you doing?

“When we come to your premises, it may be for several plant health-related reasons e.g., import inspection, when you have brought plants in from either the EU or any other countries around the world, or it may be that you are registered and authorised under the Plant Passport regulations and are being audited and the plants inspected for these purposes. When House of Kojo export plants, the inspector visits to inspect the consignment and produce the relevant phytosanitary certificate to ensure that it complies with that country's import requirements.”

How important is a plant passport and what is its significance?

“Your plant passport is important as it shows your customers that House of Kojo is registered with DEFRA and authorised by the inspector to attach plant passports to the plants moving from that site to either other production nurseries, Garden Centres, Landscapers, and any other businesses involved in the plant trade. It means that the House of Kojo meets certain standards with regards to pests and diseases, that your nominated staff have a certain knowledge and training of any pest or diseases relevant to the plants that are being produced and that Plant Health inspectors make visits to ensure that the standards are maintained.”

All our imported shipments have a Phyto Sanitary Certificate, but why is this important?

“A phytosanitary certificate (PHYTO) is an internationally recognised document that states that the plants {or seeds, timber, used farm machinery} has been inspected by the relevant plant health authorities and is, to the best of their knowledge, free from the pests or diseases that the importing country has concerns about. A physical inspection will be carried out before the consignment leaves to check that it meets those requirements and is then signed and stamped by the inspector.”

Are all plant viruses bad?

“Not all plant viruses are bad, but that may depend on the health of the plants.  Certain viruses may make a plant or flower considerably more expensive and sought after if its effects make that plant display unusual colouration e.g., Tulip breaking virus. This is a most famous for its dramatic effects on ‘breaking the colour of the tulip’ which effect was highly sought after during the 17th-century Dutch "tulip mania". However, if plants are stressed in any way, then the presence of a ‘bad’ virus may start to have a more significant effect and it may contribute along with the causes of the stress e.g., lack of water, poor growing conditions etc. to a lack of quality and vigour in those plants.  Healthy plants will often mask the signs of certain viruses and display little or no symptoms. There may be no effect on yield, plant quality, fruit production etc.” 

What is the best pest control?

“It is difficult to say what the best pest control is, depending on the crop and the problem encountered. In a house plant environment, the presence of aphids, white flies, mealy bugs, and scale inspects may be an occasional problem and a number of these can be treated with biological control i.e., introducing a known predator to attack the pest. However, certain pests are becoming more problematic and difficult to control due to their ability to build up resistance to commonly used chemicals. This has been noted with scale insects and poses a problem if the population increases rapidly.  Prevention is the key so checking your plants regularly would be ideal. “ 

What is the strangest thing you have come across?

“I’ll have to have a think about that one!”

If you have any questions that you would like us to pass on to Andrew or his colleagues, then please add a comment below and subscribe to our mailing list.  Feel free to email and send us your questions. Then keep an eye out for our next House of Kojo Blog!

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