Across our region the main fruit harvest for 2022 is well underway, and for many of us it’s nearly all over. But one thing for sure, there’s no doubt it’s been one of the most difficult harvest seasons to date or at least since I’ve been involved in the industry. We have had the effects of covid in our community and within our workforce. Our growers of course were up to the task with strong and robust H & S procedures which has helped in the prevention of further spread amongst staff. Our post-harvest supply chains have been stretched with shipping delays and staff shortages. Our 3 major providers of RSE workers, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga also had nationwide lockdowns as they experienced their own out- breaks of Covid. Tonga was also devastated by the volcano eruption on the 15th of January.
HB had our own wild weather events contributing to the wettest growing season I’ve ever experienced with some areas of HB receiving up to 175 mls of rain in 12 hours. But with all that said the history of our industry and of Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers Association show it is always in these most trying times that innovation and the strength of our community come together. We have heard of neighbours sharing labour, ensuring that growers have the equipment and staff to get through there picking. I personally was helped by friends lending me tractor drivers, pickers bags and ladders and staff when things were looking tight for me at one stage. But on a bigger scale we have been witness to industry members working tirelessly around the clock to support our workers from the Pacific. Our industry has fantastic pastoral care networks in place for our RSE. There has been work behind the scenes especially for our Tongan friends, contributing to relief plans for the rebuild post eruption. Our wider community has banded together to assist those orchards affected by recent flood damage, here, and in our neighbouring regions. I want to thank our own community for their continued support of our industry.
We have some exciting initiatives moving forward in 2022 due to be announced soon. We want to continue our focus on supporting our growers through Protecting, Fostering, and Promoting Fruit growing in Hawkes Bay. Megan Dravitzki our Business and Relationship Manager is already bringing fresh energy with new ideas making us well equipped for the future.
Lastly, we can’t wait to come together to connect and celebrate together at the Hawkes Bay Young Fruitgrower of The Year. This year’s field competition is being held at the Hasting showgrounds from 9am – 5pm on May 26th, its free to come along and cheer on the local candidates, make sure you are there to support you’re the tug of war teams. On Friday the 27th May we have our Young Fruit grower of the year Dinner and speech night. This is an outstanding night of fun and connecting with industry people – it’s been a difficult year so far – so I encourage our growers to come and celebrate this great industry event.