The young are the future
Congratulations to our recent regional winners in the Young Grower of the Year Competition and the joint winners of the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year.
It is the first time we have had a draw. Both Gurjant Singh and Esteban Ibanez did a great job in the competition held in Christchurch on the May 18. They both shone during the day in the practical, theoretical and evening competitions. Finishing tied on the same points demonstrates how close this competition has become.
The Horticulture New Zealand board joined the Otago competition on May 25 in Cromwell to watch Hamish Darling become that region’s winner. Hamish will go on to the national competition in Hawke’s Bay on August 22. Best of luck to all the contestants. Each year the standard gets higher and higher. The event clearly has a profound effect on those that compete as I see them come through their chosen fields. Confidence and public speaking are added to their range of skills and knowledge. It is great to see employers and families encourage their young people to enter and compete. Investing in our people is critical for our future. Too many of us see labour as a cost rather than an investment. Sure the wage and salary cheques make up a significant amount of our outgoings on a weekly and monthly basis. But it is the people we employ that set us apart from many other industries. The growth and success of our industry is built on our people. Their skills, knowledge and dedication to do better each year drive us all along. Continued success breeds, so encourage and reward your people wherever you can.
As I travel around the country visiting growing regions I get a sense of confidence that Horticulture New Zealand is delivering value to growers. Our role in laying a platform so all growers have a fair crack at doing what they do best; growing and selling fruit and vegetable (fresh food). Hort NZ does this by enabling, promoting and advocating for you, the grower, wherever we can. While our head office in Wellington is well placed to deal with some operational issues, it sits at the heart of the policy scene. The policy makers and politicians have a profound effect on how the rest of New Zealand operates with its imposed regulations. Our submissions and ongoing advocation is critcally important to help shape the outcomes.
In addition to our head office in Wellington, we now have staff in the regions. This includes Rachel in Canterbury, Jerf in Hawke’s Bay and Lucy in Auckland. It is sensible that we have people on the ground to deal with the day-to-day and week-to-week issues. It gives them easier access to growers and officials in the regions. Our ongoing work is important
because it allows you to get on with your normal business and prosper.
The levy renewal process is now well under way. Please read the information, attend any of the grower meetings we are holding, look up the website and be well informed. It is your vote that determines whether Horticulture New Zealand carries on or not. It is your money we use and we are very mindful about how it is spent. I believe we deliver very good value and urge you to vote positively for the renewal. The Commodity Levies Act determines that we need to have a majority by both total number of votes and the value of those votes. So please ensure that you vote. See pages 6 and 7 in this magazine for more on this, and how to vote.
Recently, I was appointed to the new Primary Sector Council. The council has 15 members from an array of backgrounds. It is chaired by Lain Jager who recently stood down as chief executive of Zespri. He is talented and very experienced. These skills will be valuable as he navigates us through the Primary Sector Councils’ challenge.
The function and role of the council is to provide independent strategic advice to the government on the primary sector and to develop a sector-wide vision. New Zealand’s primary industries are currently experiencing change and pressures which are presenting challenges such as changing consumer and New Zealand society expectations. There are many disruptions coming at us from new technologies, rule changes and the like that are creating an uncertain future for many parts of the primary sector. I’m looking forward to the role and our first meeting that was due at the end of last month.
Finally, a further reminder that the New Zealand Horticulture conference this year will be held in Christchurch at the Wigram Air Museum July 23 to 24. I urge you to get the dates into your diaries and register as soon as possible. This can be done online. The theme this year is Our Food Story. It will be a joint conference with a number of product groups along with Horticulture New Zealand; these include Vegetables NZ Inc, Process Vegetables Inc, TomatoesNZ Inc and NZ Apples and Pears. A good programme will ensure there’s something for everyone.
See you there.
Hamish Darling in action during the Central Otago Young Fruitgrower of the Year Competition recently. Hamish went on to win the event.