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  • Writer's pictureDarren Bainbridge

What the New China OMAR Can Teach Us About Data Sharing


By Darren Bainbridge

I can understand why the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and China would want to know the “Place of honey gathering”, as recent changes to the Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMAR) now requires of exporters. This information would be a very useful metric for analysing and reporting what regions of New Zealand are producing and exporting certain types of honey. Also, if there is an any issues with quality or authenticity, tracing it back to region could be very useful.

However, as an industry supporter a question that arises is, where was the industry consultation on this new requirement and could it lead to a future constraint being placed on the types of honeys that may be accepted, based on the region of gathering?

New export requirements of honey to the lucrative China market require "place of honey gathering" to be listed.

Then we get to data sharing, and whenever that topic comes up so does the conversation about data security and who’s using our data and for what purpose (looking at you China). There could be malicious intent, political gain or, in this case, possibly public safely.

If this requirement has really come about in the name of public safely, then why is there a new requirement to report the “Place of honey gathering” on our harvest declarations when this information is already known? We already have a national register of apiary locations and the apiary registration number is already a reporting requirement on our harvest declarations. The answer has to do with data sharing, or the lack thereof between agencies which has made life harder for all of us.

Data can be shared safely if there is the political will to do so. Inter-agency data sharing could stop this type of scope creep of the ever-increasing reporting and audit requirements put on us, while keeping the information out of view from prying eyes (again looking at you China). In this case, the region of gathering for each apiary registration ID in our national register could have easily been shared with MPI for food safety purposes, withoutany other identifiable information needing to be shared.

Here's an example of the type of data sharing that can prove very useful. Government agencies like, NIWA, LINZ and Stats NZ publish a lot of data that we can make use of. In the case of reporting the “Place of honey gathering”, MyApiary has been able to make use of public data published by Stats NZ to link the regional council area of all the apiary locations stored in our database, without having to share any identifiable information. This allows users of MyApairy Manager and Extraction products to meet the new China OMAR requirements without any intervention required on their part. At MyApiary we can now simply fill-in the new field, on our user's behalf, when generating harvest dec's at the time of harvesting.

But, why the need to do this in the first place? Has MPI (as they say) worked in our best interest? or simply bowed to external political pressure without looking at the alternatives? No matter how hard those conversations might have been.

And here’s why I’m best managing beekeeping data and not bees!

But the bees had other ideas

Each year we all try our best to coerce our little friends to do as we wish and remain civil, but they always manage to one up us. After what has been one of the best springs in the Waikato in years, with nectar starting to come in as early as August, my personal hives have been booming.

I have been making splits, by removing the old queen, to try and prevent swarming. Then, boom!, the one you think isn’t going to swarm (you know, the one with lower bee numbers and no queen cells is sight at the time of inspection) burps a huge swam. Tidying up after this queen’s little adventure outside the hive, and swack, one got me through the veil right between the eyes.

My eyes can be squinty at the best of times, but this is a whole new level!!

Darren Bainbridge is the founder and general manager of MyApiary, a provider of beehive, apiary and honey house management software, as well as beekeeping business advisory and consultancy.



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