Biosecurity is everyone's job
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away. Where has 2013 gone? Looking around our orchards and berryfruit gardens the crop has come on nicely with a good budbreak in the spring. Fruit set was consistent and evenly spread across trees, vines and bushes. Size has been a bit challenging with a cool period at the end of October slowing cell division at a critical time. Our boysenberry harvest will start in a few days.
Harvest is just around the corner for many other growers involved in summerfruit and berryfruit. I have already enjoyed the new season strawberries, potatoes, avocados and asparagus. We don’t do enough to celebrate the changing seasons and consumers just expect to see all produce available year round. It is a challenge for growers and for advocates of 5+ A Day to reconnect consumers with their food and the production of it.
How have I been spending my time since being appointed President in July?
I have spent quite a bit of time expanding my knowledge of all the 22 product groups and visiting a number of district associations. Peter Silcock and I visited Otago and Auckland in November. It is great to get out and meet growers on their patch. There is still a lot more work to do here and I will try to get along to see as many growers as I can, whether it’s at your place or at grower meetings. I have also been meeting with other industry leaders, various politicians and officials. For me as your new President, it takes time to build these key relationships, networks and contacts.
Horticulture New Zealand as the peak organisation for the horticultural industry needs to have good relationships with a breadth of politicians, policy makers, influencers and officials. In my presentations and speeches to date I have pushed our case on a number of key fronts. These include supporting changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that simplify and reduce costs, raising the cap on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) numbers, ensuring New Zealand’s biosecurity system continues to improve and that mandatory country of origin labelling (CoOL) is introduced. For those of you who use social media please “like” the CoOL Facebook page.
I need to change the emphasis of biosecurity being just a government issue to that of a New Zealand issue. Andrew Fenton did an excellent job of keeping this in the public eye in 2012. However every New Zealander needs to play their part in ensuring biosecurity is taken seriously not just at our border but within regions and districts. Kiwifruit growers know this too well as Psa has highlighted how quickly an incursion can spread without good practises in place. The movement of plant material, equipment, materials and people all contribute to the rapid spread of unwanted organisms. Everyone must do their bit to be aware of biosecurity dangers. If you see or hear people putting New Zealand at risk please speak up and be counted. Take a stand against this and as a last resort report them to officials at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Why does Horticulture New Zealand exist?
How do we prioritise our resources and deliver a better return to the 5,500 grower funders?
The Horticulture New Zealand board asked itself these questions last November and the Future Focus project was born.
Future Focus has taken a great deal of attention of the HortNZ management and board. It’s hard to believe we have spent 12 months on this project. I would like to thank all those who have contributed. There is still more work to do and we hope to have our five-year strategic plan signed off in April 2014. In the future we will report against the key performance objectives in the plan. In this we can judge whether we are delivering good value for money in a more transparent way.
For those of you who haven’t read about Future Focus, to recap, the objectives were “To ensure that Horticulture NZ is effectively representing growers on industry wide issues; that it is spending its funds for the benefits to growers...” To put it another way, we needed to redefine our strategic objectives and then align our resources with the key areas of demand. In doing this HortNZ has asked for help to prioritise its various roles. We have taken into account submissions, interviews and feedback from various sources including product groups, district associations and individual members.
On behalf of Horticulture New Zealand staff, management and board members, I hope you, your families and staff have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
We should also remember that it’s important that HortNZ provides the foundation or over-arching framework so that the individual product groups can deliver on the Industry Vision of being a $10 Billion Industry by 2020.
Next year I intend to continue to use this column to profile other horticultural industry leaders, including board members, product group and district association chairs. This is a very useful way of not only showcasing the person but also particular topics that are of industry wide interest.