Time to begin a new chapter
Earlier in the year I indicated to the Horticulture NZ Board that I would be stepping down at the end of 2018.
With only a month or so to go to the end of the year my departure is rapidly approaching. It’s time for someone else to take the lead and for me to farewell the board and my role at Horticulture NZ.
It’s hard to believe I have been on the board for close on seven and half years with five and half of that as president. It has been challenging, rewarding and character-building all at the same time.
I leave feeling that the organisation is in a better space now than when I started. I believe it delivers good value to its levy paying growers. Mike and his team work hard for us in Wellington and the regions. We have excellent staff who understand the industry and its needs. I wish to record my thanks to them for the job they do and the assistance they have given me over the years.
The profile of industry has been lifted in recent years. This has taken considerable effort, time and resources. We are a well-respected organisation and industry, one of which I am immensely proud.
I acknowledge we still have work to do to tell our story and explain why the horticultural industry is important in our communities, both locally and nationally.
In my time I have seen and felt the changes within Government and their ministries.This hasn’t happened from a single moment or as a result of a particular person. This has come about by a collective voice and an effort from a large number of people across the industry working together over many years. I am proud of the people who work so hard to represent us all. It’s important that we continue to be heard but at the same time stay grounded.
Fruit and vegetables are important for our wellbeing and health. Everyone has to eat to survive but the produce that we grow has an incredibly important role to play in the health of our consumers. The trust in our produce is seldom questioned and stands up to scrutiny from a number of quarters. We should do whatever it takes to ensure that this continues.
The vision or dream that the Horticulture NZ board developed, Healthy Food For All Forever, is an incredibly powerful statement. It’s what gets us out of bed every day. It personifies in five short words what we are all about.
Horticulture continues to go from strength to strength which is very encouraging and satisfying. A number of commentators see the fruit and vegetable sectors as avenues for further diversification for our most versatile land. Growth needs to be market-led and not artificially forced. New crops will come and go, markets will wax and wane and people, resources and capital will all be needed for the industry to grow.
Despite all of the positives there is still much to do. We face a continuous wave of challenges but that’s just life. I see that biosecurity vigilance and environmental compliance will be never-ending. But if I think beyond these then I would like to make the following predictions;
• Red meat consumption will decline and we will see the
rise and rise of vegetables in our diets.
Robotics, drones, machine learning, smart phones and IT will lead to greater efficiencies, higher returns and better crops.
Horticulture will become NZ’s number one export sector at some point.
• The role of supermarkets in the supply chain will change.
• Food safety and the trust in the food we produce will be
our greatest value-add feature.
99.99 percent of NZ’s rural rivers and streams will once again be swimmable. The greater water quality challenge lies inside the urban boundaries.
• More investment is needed in community water
• The urban /rural gap will widen further, unfortunately.
Climate change will have unforeseen consequences.
Biotechnology will dominate design of future products and systems.
• Gene-editing will eventually become socially acceptable.
• The wide use of plastics will come back to haunt us.
People will always be our greatest asset - so look after them!
Only time will tell as to whether these predictions become true or not.This is the list I have been using when presenting to groups within the rural sector for the past couple of years so it’s not new and some people will recognise it from the Horticulture Leader courses and Kellogg Rural Leadership courses.
So keep up the great work that each and every one of you is involved in. It’s a wonderful industry to be part of and you
get out of it what you put in to it.
Horticulture has been good to me over the past 35 years and it’s been great to give something back. The time is right to turn the page and start a new chapter.
“We face a continuous wave of challenges but that’s just life.”