Trust not taken lightly

More work needs to be done to make sure what has been achieved so far is built on.

The Orchardist - - News - Story and pho­tos by Anne Hardie

Re­tir­ing dor­ti­cul­ture jew Zealand pres­i­dent fu­lian Raine be­lieves the in­dus­try has shifted into a new space in re­cent yearsJ That’s due to trust in its grow­ersH sys­tems and prod­uctsH and so that trust has to be guarded with careH he saidJ

He’s spent five and a half years at the helm and steps down at the end of the month to en­able some­one new with fresh ideas and fresh de­ter­mi­na­tion to take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity un­til the next gen­eral elec­tion in 2L2LJ

Ju­lian has been an in­te­gral part of a flour­ish­ing in­dus­try and said good re­turns haven’t hap­pened by chanceH but by the work through­out the in­dus­try that has earned trustJ

“jew Zealand pro­duce is in high de­mand and it’s be­cause we have trusted grow­ers and trusted sys­tems and trusted prod­ucts, with that re­flected in the de­mand for our pro­duce in­ter­na­tion­ally – peo­ple are will­ing to pay a pre­mium for thatH” he saidJ

“But we have to guard that with a lot of care be­cause trust is earned over time and it’s lost in an in­stantJ We have to keep work­ing on thatJuou can’t stand still and you have to keep in­vest­ingJ”

gey to that is peo­ple and due to staff short­ages through­out the in­dus­tryH he said grow­ers will have to con­sider as­pects such as more flex­i­ble work­ing hours and pos­si­bly creches for work­ing moth­ers to at­tract peo­ple to the in­dus­tryJ By em­brac­ing diver­sity and do­ing things dif­fer­ent­lyH the in­dus­try can in­volve a good cross sec­tion of so­ci­ety from young to oldH male and fe­maleH all races and dif­fer­ent creedsH he saidJ It’s al­ready hap­pen­ingH he points outH but the in­dus­try needs to en­sure it con­tin­uesJ

Work in the in­dus­try will change over time as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ro­bot­ics make tasks eas­ierH but much of that tech­nol­ogy is not avail­able to­day and that makes the recog­nised sea­sonal em­ployer DRSaE scheme so im­por­tantJ

“We phys­i­cally don’t have enough peo­ple to do the work and that’s why the RSa scheme is es­sen­tial to get the crop offH” he saidJ

“We couldn’t pick our pro­duce now with­out the RSa scheme – near on MOHLLL peo­ple that come into the coun­try – and those peo­ple help sus­tain the per­ma­nent roles we have and even a lot of the ca­sual jobsJ I see it as an in­te­gral part of the in­dus­try and sureH ro­bot­ics may re­place some of this over timeH but that tech­nol­ogy isn’t avail­able to­day or to­mor­rowH but more on the five to 10-year hori­zon.”

While jZ’s hor­ti­cul­ture prod­ucts are in de­mandH the in­dus­try’s voice has in­creas­ingly been in de­mand as well in the past few yearsH partly due to its growthH but also be­cause the in­dus­try has be­come more vo­calJ

“We’re heard a lot more nowH” he saidJ

“We were hardly ever in­vited to things and me­dia didn’t ring us upH whereas now they do ring us up and they value our opin­ionJ We do have a re­spected role in Welling­ton and are re­spected with of­fi­cials and politi­cians alike across a broad spec­trum of de­part­ments and po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sionsJ

“I think we work a lot harder than we did for our grow­ers be­fore and we are more ef­fec­tive now.”

“It’s been through a lot of work and the growth of the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try – we’ve be­come a lot more rel­e­vantH but also through act­ing sen­si­bly and re­spon­si­blyJ We don’t shoot from the hipW we try and work with peo­ple and point out the ob­vi­ous some­timesJ Where we see peo­ple who are rightH we say so and where we see they are wrongH we say soJ We’re a lot more vo­cal and we’ve earned some re­spect be­cause of the sen­si­bil­ity we bring to some of the dis­cus­sions and ar­gu­mentsJ I think we work a lot harder than we did for our grow­ers be­fore and we are more ef­fec­tive nowJ”

de be­lieves the in­dus­try’s nat­u­ral re­ac­tion to be up­front and proac­tive on en­vi­ron­ment is­sues has helped earn trust in the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try as wellJ Com­pared with other pri­mary in­dus­triesH it works more closely with the com­mu­ni­tyH lit­er­al­lyH as it em­ploys so many peo­ple per hectare and is of­ten sit­u­ated along­side ur­ban ar­easJ

“We try and take is­sues on rather than hide themH” he saidJ

“We put our hand up and have own­er­ship of is­suesJ And I think be­cause of that we get more brownie points in our com­mu­ni­tiesJ The com­mu­nity re­spects peo­ple and in­dus­tries and busi­nesses that say they have a prob­lem and this is what we’re do­ing to try and sort it outJ If you have a bet­ter way of us sort­ing it out we’re all earsJ I think that is the hall­mark of the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­tryJ

“We could do bet­ter though and that ’s been one of my mantras – we’re do­ing wellH but we could do bet­terJ”

A con­tin­u­ing frus­tra­tion for the in­dus­try has been the Re­source ian­age­ment Act which fu­lian said has led to bu­reau­cracy that is non­sen­si­cal at timesJ av­ery­one un­der­stands the in­tent of the actH he be­lievesH but it hasn’t moved with the timesH and in cases such as dis­charge con­sents and some of the plan­ning rulesH there’s no log­icJ If an is­sue goes to courtH the only win­ners are the lawyers and that money would be far bet­ter spent on the en­vi­ron­mentH he points outJ

“Bu­reau­crats look at a rule and it be­comes very spe­cific and the de­tail in it doesn’t fit the case and they keep look­ing at their rule book to make a de­ci­sion on that and there’s lit­tle or no flex­i­bil­ity,” he said.

“uou hear so many cases where the pa­per­work and re­source man­age­ment re­quire­ments cost more than the ac­tiv­ity it­selfJ This is just waste­fulJ”

fust as frus­trat­ing is the lo­cal body sys­tem in jZ which he la­bels bro­kenJ Too many coun­cil­lors who get elected on a hot topic with no knowl­edge of any other ac­tiv­i­ties are then more con­cerned about re-elec­tion than the de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cessJ

“I see it all over jZ with the three Ws – wastew­a­terH fresh wa­ter and stormwa­ter sys­tems that are ar­chaicH” he saidJ

“uou’ve still got dis­charges of sewage around the place be­cause they can – they have long-term con­sentsJ It’s in­con­sis­tent and we’ve got coun­cil­lors who have sat on their handsH warmed the seat and ba­si­cally been in­com­pe­tent for decadesJ And for

“We try and take is­sues on rather than hide them.”

the road­ing net­work as wellJ The whole sys­tem is bro­ken and I’m just point­ing out the ob­vi­ousJ”

It will take more than the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try to change the sys­temH but he be­lieves peo­ple need to start talk­ing about it to get changeJ

Go­ing for­wardH fu­lian said cli­mate change will have far­reach­ing ef­fects on jZ for decades with is­sues such as dieselH fer­tiliser and pes­ti­cides to over­comeJ So far there’s no plan to tackle the emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­gets for 2LOL and 2L5L or how the hor­ti­cul­ture and food in­dus­tries play their partJ

kne of the things that the in­dus­try does re­ally well thoughH is adaptH he saidJ In the past 2L yearsH new mar­kets and cus­tomers have it to adapt dra­mat­i­cally and of­ten quickly to keep paceJ “It’s about un­der­stand­ing what your cus­tomers wantH to be more re­cep­tive to their chang­ing de­mands and in some cases fash­ionH” he saidJ

“We’re see­ing changes around eth­nic­ity and what they wantH so the fruit and veg­etable va­ri­eties we grew 2L years ago are quite dif­fer­ent to the va­ri­eties we grow nowJuou’re see­ing the rise and rise of east­ern coun­tries and our abil­ity to ser­vice those new mar­kets and cus­tomersJ

“I think hor­ti­cul­tur­ists have been re­ally good at adapt­ing to those mar­ket changes and one of the rea­sons for our suc­cess has been adapt­abil­i­tyJ We’ve moved quickly to those changesH whether it’s a taste pref­er­enceH how it is packedH grade stan­dards and phy­tosan­i­tary re­quire­mentsJ It’s all of those things and I think we’ve been highly adapt­able and we’ve changed quickly to meet the de­mands of new cus­tomersJ”

That’s an on­go­ing process and in the fu­ture the rise of mi­cronu­tri­ents to iso­late health ben­e­fits from cer­tain com­poundsH will evolveH he be­lievesJ ax­tracts from foods will be added to reme­dies to as­sist healthJ

Step­ping down from his dortjZ role will bring more time to be in­volved with his hor­ti­cul­ture cropsH though there is al­ways the call for in­volve­ment in in­dus­try mat­tersJ de has just been ap­pointed to the Waimea Wa­ter BoardH the com­pany cre­ated to con­struct the @MLL mil­lion Waimea Com­mu­nity Dam near jel­sonJ It’s a pro­ject planned for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and has had a bat­tle through the coun­cil pro­cessH but one he said has to suc­ceedJ

Suc­cess is some­thing he says the in­dus­try has learnt to cel­e­brateH such as the Bledis­loe Cup for con­tri­bu­tion to the in­dus­tryH the lres­i­dent’s Tro­phy to cel­e­brate in­spir­ing lead­er­ship and this year for the first time, the En­vi­ron­ment Award for work on sus­tain­abil­i­tyJ It has also cel­e­brated MLL years of fruit­grow­ing and he had the op­por­tu­nity to be part of the cel­e­bra­tions around the coun­tryH trav­el­ling to places like at­trick in ktago and lukekohe in South Auck­land where fam­i­lies con­tinue to grow pro­duce a cen­tury af­ter their fore­bears planted their first crops.

“The whole sys­tem is bro­ken and I’m just point­ing out the ob­vi­ous.”

Ju­lian Raine – RSE scheme an in­te­gral part of the in­dus­try

It’s more im­por­tant than ever that the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try cel­e­brates its suc­cesses, Ju­lian be­lieves.

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