The impact of Covid-19 on the horticulture sector has been immense. An industry that was a lifeline to many workers during Covid- 19, the industry now finds itself facing a severe labour shortage and every chance of Class One fruit being left to rot on the trees.
Thank you to the large number of kiwis who have already stepped up and jumped into horticulture this season. It is a critical period for the industry prior to harvest with fruit thinning and subsequent canopy management to set the trees up for harvest. For a large number of growers, some hard decisions have been made- largely to reduce crop loads on the back of insufficient labour to pick the fruit. No grower makes this decision lightly.
New Zealand Apples and Pears, alongside other product groups have been negotiating for several months with Government to address the labour shortage dilemma. The recent announcement of 2,000 RSE workers into the country to assist with harvest, it is a great start. However, 14,000 RSE workers a year usually support our industry, and with 6,000 of those from last year who have chosen to stay and work this season, the industry is still considerably short of workers to help get the crop off this harvest.
We have plenty of challenges ahead for our industry. I hope that as a region we can collectively work together and ‘Pick the Bay’ come harvest.
Good luck for the coming few months and enjoy time with your family over the Christmas period.
As we come to the end of 2020, I’ve reflected on a year that has been like no other. Our industry has been forced to adapt, behave and think differently. What hasn’t changed however is our ability to work together as a sector- these are the pillars that define our industry as is our ability to connect, even if the mediums enabling communication are somewhat new!
2021 is going to be a fantastic year! The year kicks off with our annual Industry Awards Night on Thursday 28th January. We will be recognising the achievements of our graduates, scholarships recipients and contributions to the horticulture sector with the presentation of the Joe Bell and Fourneau Trophy.
Applications have opened for the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower of the Year Competition in June and we look forward to engaging with up-and-coming emerging talent in our industry. The Awards Dinner is shaping up to be a fabulous night with several exciting changes including Te Radar as MC for the Dinner.
A heart felt thanks to EIT and Primary ITO for all the work training many of our employees in their chosen field. These organisations play a hugely important role up-skilling and training our workforce.
As we know the industry is facing labour challenges. I encourage you to keep an eye on each other, support each other and be willing to help one another where possible – industry collaboration will be the key for riding this next wave through to harvest and beyond.
Thank you to all our members, sponsors, friends of our industry and all growers for your support this year.
Have a very merry Christmas – stay safe and we’ll see you in the New Year.
EIT Trainee News
Despite 2020 being one of the most difficult on record with Covid lockdowns, the EIT staff are happy that the year has been successful. All the teaching staff have large piles of marking on their desk and the results sheets are filling nicely. Thank you to all the managers who have shared their knowledge and time with our trainees.
We will still here Wednesday 23rd of December to help students and receive any new enrolments.
The timetable for next year can be downloaded here, so if you have any new trainees please have a look at the timetable. For further information, please contact EIT Tutor Gordon Reid on firstname.lastname@example.org or 06 8301851.
2020 has been a year of substantial change for the Association. Little did we know that the most significant change to our operating model during the past decade, would also coincide with a pandemic! For the past 12 months the Executive Committee has been working incredibly hard to reposition the Association to be able to better respond and represent our growers and members. We have innovated our the way we operate, by leveraging new and digital ways of working, in order to better communicate, engage and represent all growers- both young and old. Graduates from EIT and Primary ITO will be the future leaders of this industry and as a region we must invest, engage and ensure we have the tools to communicate to them effectively.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Promote Committee and Marketing Infusion for their dedication and support over the past 12-18 months. From brainstorming sessions that commenced in 2018, a year on we identified the need to adapt a new model and in August 2019 we started the process of rebranding the Association. Six months on we had rolled out a new website, undertaken a rebrand, established social media platforms and responsive sponsorship and membership models- all whilst our team held down their own respective day jobs! Our industry is extremely fortunate to have such passionate, driven Executive members who proactively engage and represent the region and our members.
Next year, we have some exciting changes ahead for our events. No doubt we will be thrown a few curve balls with the imminent labour issues, but as a region we have proven to ourselves and the world markets, that we are good at responding to challenges. This is a time that we must collectively work together to achieve a common goal- producing and selling world class fruit grown in Hawke’s Bay.
Look after yourselves, enjoy your whanau and safe travels during the Christmas period.