And the next 100 years…

A Deloitte re­port on veg­etable grow­ing in the Pukekohe area, com­mis­sioned by Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand as part of events mark­ing the PVGA cen­te­nary, ad­dressed some sig­nif­i­cant is­sues.

NZ Grower - - Cptpp - By Glenys Chris­tian

The re­port said the Pukekohe hub, made up of 4359 hectares of some of New Zealand’s most fer­tile and pro­duc­tive soils, not only saw many veg­eta­bles grown there but also pro­duce trans­ported there for pro­cess­ing. The area was ideally placed to pro­vide year-round veg­eta­bles to Auck­land al­though it’s just 0.01 per­cent of the size of that city.

While Pukekohe ac­counts for 3.8 per­cent of the coun­try’s land un­der fruit and veg­etable pro­duc­tion, it con­trib­utes to 26 per­cent of NZ’s value of pro­duc­tion of veg­eta­bles, and a lesser pro­por­tion of fruit.

The loss of pro­duc­tive land to ur­ban­i­sa­tion in the hub is not just a land use change is­sue, but one of food se­cu­rity as Auck­land’s is ex­pected to be home to 2.3 mil­lion peo­ple by 2043, the re­port said. This 37 per­cent growth cou­pled with chang­ing con­sumer pref­er­ences for sus­tain­able pro­duce and plant-based di­ets, means it’s wellplaced to meet grow­ing de­mand. But there’s less land avail­able for cul­ti­va­tion, and a wi­den­ing dis­con­nect be­tween New Zealan­ders and their food sources.

“The coun­try runs the real risk of not be­ing able to pro­vide its own pop­u­la­tion with ad­e­quate and af­ford­able fruit and veg­eta­bles, un­less New Zealan­ders un­der­stand the value and con­tri­bu­tion made by grow­ing ar­eas, such as Pukekohe and man­age them ef­fec­tively.”

The es­ti­mated cur­rent eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion of the Pukekohe hub’s hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try is $261 mil­lion, con­tribut­ing 0.3 per­cent to Auck­land's re­gional econ­omy di­rectly and in­di­rectly. The di­rect con­tri­bu­tion is around $86m each year while the in­di­rect con­tri­bu­tion, through spend­ing on agri­cul­ture sup­port ser­vices, wa­ter, ma­chin­ery, feed, fer­tiliser and seed, is $175m each year. Hor­ti­cul­ture di­rectly con­trib­utes 1458 full time equiv­a­lent work­ers to the re­gion and in 2017 this was nearly a quar­ter of the to­tal 6700 work­ers em­ployed in in­door and out­door veg­etable grow­ing in NZ. But the in­dus­try is chal­lenged by a dwin­dling sup­ply of skilled and un­skilled labour, and fewer peo­ple in­ter­ested in work­ing

“The coun­try runs the real risk of not be­ing able to pro­vide its own pop­u­la­tion with ad­e­quate and af­ford­able fruit and veg­eta­bles, un­less New Zealan­ders un­der­stand the value and con­tri­bu­tion made by grow­ing ar­eas, such as Pukekohe and man­age them ef­fec­tively.”

in hor­ti­cul­ture. There’s a risk skills and tal­ent will be lost to other in­dus­tries.

The grow­ers Deloitte spoke to gen­er­ally agreed NZ needs to be smarter about its long-term plan­ning, food se­cu­rity and do­mes­tic sup­ply.

“The nat­u­ral ten­sion be­tween ur­ban­i­sa­tion and pro­duc­tive land means there are big chal­lenges ahead for hor­ti­cul­ture. Col­lab­o­ra­tion is needed be­tween cen­tral and lo­cal govern­ment and grow­ers. Lead­ers in hor­ti­cul­ture need to drive change, and make New Zealan­ders aware the is­sues fac­ing grow­ers are not all the same as those af­fect­ing other pri­mary pro­duc­ers. There is lit­tle point en­cour­ag­ing healthy eat­ing if fruit and veg­eta­bles are not read­ily avail­able, and at rea­son­able prices.” >

Deloitte would like to see the food se­cu­rity con­ver­sa­tion for the Pukekohe hub fo­cus­ing on:

• Ad­e­quate and care­ful plan­ning on land use, in­clud­ing bal­anc­ing the needs of hous­ing and hor­ti­cul­ture.

• Use of in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies to man­age the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of crop­ping within en­vi­ron­men­tal lim­its.

• In­vest­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of new va­ri­eties to man­age chang­ing con­di­tions, dis­eases, con­sumer pref­er­ences and pro­duc­tive ca­pac­ity.

• At­trac­tion of skilled labour by com­mu­ni­cat­ing and cre­at­ing vis­i­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties to bring more tal­ent and skilled labour into the in­dus­try.

• Cre­at­ing a more com­mer­cial, de­mand-driven sup­ply chain with less wastage to im­prove value and en­sure a fair re­turn on cap­i­tal. This would re­quire se­cured ac­cess to re­sources.

• Bal­anc­ing of do­mes­tic and hor­ti­cul­ture de­mands on wa­ter through ef­fi­cient and con­sid­ered wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion sys­tems. Deloitte said as the fu­ture con­straints to pro­duc­tion hit home, busi­nesses and Govern­ment would need to take bold steps.

“Given the chal­lenges the hub’s hor­ti­cul­ture pro­duc­tion faces, are busi­nesses, grow­ers, lo­cal and cen­tral Govern­ment, and in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tions ask­ing the right questions?”

It asked how fi­nan­cially sus­tain­able the in­dus­try was, and how Govern­ment and in­dus­try could work to­gether to ac­tively develop a food se­cu­rity strat­egy that con­sid­ered the needs of a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and avail­abil­ity of nat­u­ral re­sources.

“What can the in­dus­try, Govern­ment and ed­u­ca­tion providers do to en­sure we are grow­ing to­mor­row’s grow­ers? How can we en­sure that we have ef­fi­cient wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion and con­sents to grow hor­ti­cul­ture for the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion?”

“Lead­ers in hor­ti­cul­ture need to drive change, and make New Zealan­ders aware the is­sues fac­ing grow­ers are not all the same as those af­fect­ing other pri­mary pro­duc­ers.”

The chal­lenge to the in­dus­try was to meet grow­ing de­mand while deal­ing with in­creas­ing costs and other pres­sures of meet­ing this de­mand .

“A new way of think­ing is re­quired, and New Zealan­ders can­not rely on the way they have al­ways done things to find the an­swers the coun­try needs now.”

“What can the in­dus­try, Govern­ment and ed­u­ca­tion providers do to en­sure we are grow­ing to­mor­row's grow­ers?

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