Pres­i­dent’s word

A Min­istry of Food is food for thought

NZ Grower - - CONTENTS - Ju­lian Raine | Pres­i­dent HortNZ

I con­grat­u­late them on their win and look for­ward to work­ing with Hon Damien O’Con­nor our new agri­cul­ture min­is­ter.

As pres­i­dent of Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand, I would like to pub­licly ex­press my thanks to the Hon Nathan Guy, Hon Michael Wood­house, Hon Anne Tol­ley, Hon Todd McClay and a num­ber of other mem­bers of Par­lia­ment I worked with over the last five years. The hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try has achieved a lot in re­cent years and your help has been ap­pre­ci­ated dur­ing this time.

De­spite what some may think and es­pouse, the po­lit­i­cal arena is a tough en­vi­ron­ment. There is a dif­fi­cult job in­ter­view ev­ery three years to re­tain the gov­ern­ment benches or even a seat in the House. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all those who were suc­cess­ful in Septem­ber.

Damien O’Con­nor and I met within a few days of his ap­point­ment as Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and have dis­cussed the key is­sues in front of us both. I look for­ward to his sup­port of the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try as we con­tinue to progress and grow. The last few months have high­lighted the dis­rup­tion of change. In hor­ti­cul­ture we ex­pe­ri­ence change all of the time at dif­fer­ent de­grees of pace. “Dis­rupt or be dis­rupted” is a mod­ern term. As we all know do­ing “the same old same old” is not an op­tion as the rate of change in ev­ery­thing we do is speed­ing up. We see this with ex­am­ples of new think­ing, meth­ods or de­vices, like:

• Drones and their use/ap­pli­ca­tion.

• In­tel­li­gent ma­chines in the field (grow­ing, mon­i­tor­ing, har­vest­ing), pack­ing and stor­age.

• Us­ing smart phones to their full po­ten­tial. Be­lieve me there is an app for ev­ery­thing. My iPhone is more pow­er­ful than our first com­puter. I used to use a mo­bile phone to just ring peo­ple. Now it’s ca­pa­ble of do­ing more than 100 things daily. It is used for busi­ness, pri­vate, lo­cal, na­tional, in­ter­na­tional, mea­sur­ing, count­ing, record­ing, cal­cu­lat­ing, note tak­ing, trans­fer­ring, ac­cess­ing so­cial me­dia, film­ing, play­ing mu­sic, health mon­i­tor­ing, gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion, see­ing weather fore­casts, get­ting news as it hap­pens, bank­ing, as a torch, a light me­ter, uber­ing, en­ter­tain­ing, text mes­sag­ing - the list goes on and on and ex­pands ev­ery year. Plus I still make the odd phone call.

• Sensing and the use of re­mote senses to tell us in­for­ma­tion as it hap­pens. An­a­lyz­ing the data cap­tured by oth­ers and com­par­ing it with mine. Watch­ing trends.

• Pre­ci­sion agri­cul­ture (us­ing in­puts re­lated to ex­pected yields).

• Are you robot-ready?

• Re­duc­tion of waste and en­ergy.

• Re­cy­cling of ma­te­ri­als.

• Are you con­trol­ling the con­trol­lable? And think­ing about how to han­dle the things that are cur­rently un­con­trol­lable?

It is ex­haust­ing and chal­leng­ing. Where do we get the en­ergy to keep up? How­ever, to be blunt, we have to adapt or we be­come ob­so­lete. The same is true with our so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues.

The im­pact of a new gov­ern­ment and new is­sues will mean we have to change and ad­just. A num­ber of old

is­sues haven’t gone away and they con­tinue to be brought to the ta­ble to be ad­dressed in­clud­ing:

• Biose­cu­rity

• Cli­mate change

• Wa­ter qual­ity and avail­abil­ity

• Pro­tec­tion of our elite soils

• Trade and mar­ket ac­cess

• RMA and in­con­sis­tency of how it is ap­plied

• CoOL

• Labour needs, skills and train­ing

• The grow­ing wall of com­pli­ance.

It is in­ter­est­ing that the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) has been de­limbed into the sep­a­rate de­part­ments of forestry, fish­eries and agri­cul­ture. With our hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try un­der the agri­cul­ture ban­ner I would hope that there is more at­ten­tion given to our spe­cial­ist needs. In­deed I would sub­mit we need a greater em­pha­sis on food and not just pro­duc­tion sys­tems. Food should en­com­pass not only our nutri­tional needs, but be bal­anced, healthy and safe. It should be pro­moted as a pre­ven­tion of med­i­cal is­sues, part of our cul­ture and an at­trac­tion for tourists. Food has a greater role to play in our com­mu­ni­ties and in­di­vid­ual well­be­ing. Cap­tur­ing hearts and minds will mean we need to have a bet­ter name and phrase to pro­mote the Min­istry of Food. Any ideas?

Sure, we still re­quire reg­u­la­tory and gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment func­tions, pol­icy, food safety and biose­cu­rity but a min­istry that pro­motes food from all an­gles is a must have in my book. Part of it would come out of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, part out of the Min­istry of Health and Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and we need close ties with our min­istries of cul­ture and tourism too. Food for thought and well­be­ing, any­one?

Food should en­com­pass not only our nutri­tional needs, but be bal­anced, healthy and safe.

Last month I was priv­i­leged to talk with the par­tic­i­pants on the hor­ti­cul­ture lead­ers’ course as they com­pleted the last leg of the 2017 pro­gramme in Welling­ton. It was great to see the di­ver­sity and nat­u­ral tal­ent within the group. These 17 peo­ple will grow and learn and give back to our in­dus­try in so many ways. The nur­tur­ing of this group is very im­por­tant as hor­ti­cul­ture in New Zealand builds its pres­ence. They have the en­ergy, skills and de­ter­mi­na­tion to steer us along the path­way of change. These new and emerg­ing lead­ers will take our in­dus­try for­ward to meet the chal­lenges of an ever-chang­ing po­lit­i­cal, en­vi­ron­men­tal, fi­nan­cial and so­cial land­scape. Like them I’m look­ing for­ward to it, too.

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