Under the Mikeroscope
Plenty happened in the horticultural world in the last 12 months.
2018 in review
One of the more important events for Horticulture New Zealand this year was the successful levy vote.
The vote was taken after we had held a series of meetings around the country talking about the roles of HortNZ and the other organisations that had their levy vote at the same time. Although there was not a strong turnout, the vote was very positive with 90 percent of those voting being in favour of continuing HortNZ’s work for growers. As we know, when farmers or growers are not content with an organisation’s performance, they vote in large numbers and against the levy continuing. So thank you for your continued support.
Although meeting with as many growers as possible to discuss the levy was a priority this year, we also kept our business as usual on track and there were some key achievements.
Our communications team lifted horticulture’s profile substantially through mainstream and social media. We produced high quality information brochures about horticulture, using to best advantage our vision, healthy food for all forever, with an emphasis on sustainable food production. The annual report was structured on reporting to HortNZ’s vision, mission and purpose and presented the growers and their work with great photos and graphics focused on “a food story”.
In August, Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor hosted the launch of the Deloitte report, New Zealand’s Food Story, the Pukekohe Hub, at Parliament. Economic Development and Environment Minister David Parker was also in attendance. This report, prepared for HortNZ, provides an evidence-base to push for a New Zealand food security policy aimed at protecting growers’ access to land, water and people. It has been the key reference document in our campaigns to protect land suitable for horticulture from housing, and to advance with the Government the development of the National Policy Statement for Horticulture.
Our resource management team, apart from working with Minister Parker and his officials on this National Policy Statement, has enhanced our working relationship with central Government and is providing valuable input into climate change policy. It was a busy year for this team which has worked with over 30 councils around the country to ensure that you can continue to grow fruit and vegetables. The work with central Government will substantially strengthen our ability to make key gains with regional and district councils.
In August, we agreed with the trustees of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy Te Puni Kōkiri Excellence in Māori Farming Award for horticulture to become part of this award on a thirdyear rotation starting in 2020.
The Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill passed into law on November 28. This was a long run campaign that, with the help of the Green MPs sponsoring the bill, became a reality. To achieve this we had independent research conducted into consumers’ preference - consumers unsurprisingly wanted country of origin labelling for fresh fruit and vegetables - and launched a successful social media campaign.
For biosecurity, HortNZ provided the technical input for the approval of the application to the Environmental Protection Authority for the biocontrol Samurai wasp. This was a collective initiative involving horticulture product groups and other sectors and is a great example of how working together across all groups we can achieve significant gains. HortNZ also attained GIA signatory status as the representative for process vegetables.
In conjunction with our partners, Plant & Food Research and New Zealand Apples & Pears, we presented another successful New Zealand pavilion at the 2018 Asia Fruit Logistica trade fair in Hong Kong.
NZGAP’s very significant achievement was, after a long campaign working with the other scheme operators in NZ, the recognition of NZGAP plus GLOBALG.A.P. and BRC checklists as section 40 Food Control Plan templates with the Ministry for Primary Industries under Food Act 2014. Significant progress was made on the acceptance of the NZGAP Environment Management System Add-on with multiple regional councils, as an accepted pathway for growers to meet requirements for good management practice via the independently audited NZGAP
This is work in progress but is focused on making compliance straight forward, with a “one auditor up the drive way” concept.
scheme and assurance framework. This is work in progress but is focused on making compliance straight forward, with a “one auditor up the drive way” concept. A new social practice standard for horticulture was also launched, which is aligned with NZ retailer and regulatory requirements.
The Horticulture Capability Group, made up of representatives from NZ Kiwifruit Growers, Apples & Pears, NZ Avocado Growers Association, Vegetables NZ, the Hawke’s Bay Fruit Growers Association and HortNZ, has taken the lead on horticulture’s initiative to find and keep skilled and reliable labour. The group was active in re-establishing horticulture apprenticeships, through the Primary ITO, and getting additional funding from the Government to make the programme world-class. There is also work being done with Massey University to hopefully reinstate the horticulture degree and progressively provide a suite of micro-credentials (short courses) from 2019. Both these have been collaborative industry efforts, with great input from NZ Apples & Pears. To ensure a supply of candidates for both the group has supported the position established by local industry lead, Tim Egan, in Gisborne to channel people into these career programmes and place them with industry during their training. There has been funding approval for a similar position in Northland, with that career progression manager starting at the end of November. Applications are underway to create similar positions in the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Marlborough, and Central Otago. There would also be a coordinator position at Massey University. Plus, there is a pipeline being established with Canterbury growers, though the Primary ITO, into horticulture apprenticeships.
The RSE scheme is supported by HortNZ and, along with the key horticulture sectors, we were successful in getting the largest cap increase ever made. But as our labour crisis worsens, the RSE scheme cannot be the only solution. We are looking for other options collectively and possible immigration solutions.
In addition, there were the scholarship programmes and horticulture leadership courses, plus there were young grower competitions culminating in the national final showcasing our up and coming talented leaders for the future.
Finally, we arranged visits to orchards and gardens for key politicians. Thank you for hosting them.
The above is but a short summary of our key achievements and, I apologise for everything that I have missed. There were many other issues and projects that we worked on to create the enduring environment where you can prosper.