Avo­cado Up­date

A fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity

The Orchardist - - Contents -

It is a trib­ute to the growth across the avo­cado in­dus­try and across hor­ti­cul­ture that we had the hon­our of our Prime Min­is­ter, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern at­tend­ing and open­ing our New Zealand Avo­cado In­ter­na­tional In­dus­try Con­fer­ence. She spoke knowl­edgably about the growth and op­por­tu­nity for av­o­ca­dos, about the col­lab­o­ra­tion across our in­dus­try and of her Gov­ern­ment’s de­sire to sup­port the re­gions and pri­mary in­dus­tries.

It was an in­spir­ing start to a fan­tas­tic cou­ple of days in Tau­ranga. The open­ing cer­e­mony fol­lowed a pro­fes­sional but quick an­nual gen­eral meet­ing. That might sug­gest great re­turns, happy grow­ers.

We had fan­tas­tic sup­port from stake­hold­ers across the in­dus­try in spon­sor­ship and ex­hibitor par­tic­i­pa­tion.We in­vited lo­cal iwi to join the PM and par­tic­i­pants for the open­ing, and we took the pro­ces­sion through the large ex­hi­bi­tion space to en­sure as much vis­i­bil­ity for those sup­port­ing com­pa­nies.

The con­fer­ence theme was Grow­ing Av­o­ca­dos for the World and cov­ered top­ics across per­form­ing on the global stage, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion, re­search and ex­ten­sion, and sus­tain­abil­ity. We wel­comed in­ter­na­tional speak­ers Loren Zhao from China, Pro­fes­sor Neena Mit­ter from Aus­tralia and Jorge Restrepo from Columbia. They we joined by an equally im­pres­sive num­ber of New Zealand speak­ers, Dr Ni­cholas Gill, Carol Ward, Dr David Pat­te­more, Steve Saun­ders, Craige McKen­zie, Dr Phillip Elmer and fin­ished with an on-the-couch ses­sion with three of our in­dus­tries tech­ni­cal ex­perts, Colin Par­tridge, Erica Faber and Jonathan Dixon.

Ni­cholas Gill com­pared the vi­sion and di­rec­tion re­quired in his role as per­for­mance coach for the All Blacks with what we as an in­dus­try must do to max­imise the op­por­tu­nity to grow av­o­ca­dos for the world. We learned from Neena about new re­search to prop­a­gate av­o­ca­dos us­ing tis­sue cul­ture, from David about the in­cred­i­ble in­tri­cacy of in­creas­ing pol­li­na­tion in av­o­ca­dos and from Carol about the start of Ze­spri’s sus­tain­abil­ity jour­ney. My open­ing ses­sion de­scribed our jour­ney to date and pre­sented a model of a $1 bil­lion in­dus­try by 2040.

The net­work­ing across the spon­sored breaks was fan­tas­tic, with so many things to talk about and ex­plore.That con­tin­ued through a fan­tas­tic gala din­ner, with Mike McRoberts as master of cer­e­monies and guest speaker. Dur­ing the awards ses­sion Maria and An­drew Watchorn were awarded top grower, He­len Grey and Bill Har­till awarded in­dus­try ser­vice awards and Ashby White­head awarded the pres­ti­gious Avo­cado Award, the high­est hon­our for our in­dus­try.

Af­ter rather mis­er­able weather through the first two days, we were very happy to see the re­turn of proper Tau­ranga sun­shine for the field day. We packed into buses and vis­ited three dif­fer­ent or­chards; a closely planted or­chard on ter­races, an es­tab­lished or­chard with beau­ti­ful big trees set out in park­like en­vi­ron­ment and a very new plant­ing. Sci­en­tists added their views to the progress the var­i­ous grow­ing meth­ods were pro­duc­ing and the grow­ers them­selves de­scribed their ob­jec­tives do­ing things the way they were do­ing.

It was an up­lift­ing week to be in­volved in and to spend time with the many pos­i­tive grow­ers, who are con­tribut­ing to con­tin­ued suc­cess, was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity.

Full cov­er­age of the con­fer­ence will ap­pear in the Novem­ber and De­cem­ber is­sues of The Or­chardist.

Jen Scoular

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