Thinking about what lies ahead in 2021 for HBFA and the Hawke’s Bay fruit growing community, one thing that I am certain of is that there will be change.
John F Kennedy put it nicely, “There is nothing more certain and unchanging than uncertainty and change.” In the February edition of the Orchardist magazine, both Barry O’Neil (President, HortNZ) and Mike Chapman (CEO, HorticultureNZ) describe what they believe will be the key challenges for Horticulture in 2021 and in the decade ahead. Mike Chapman comments that “last years’ challenges and those we face currently are forcing us to change how we operate as an industry at all levels”. I couldn’t agree more.
For our Hawkes Bay industry, the implications of Covid-19 will continue to force change upon us, but we also need to be considering what other changes are required to ensure the future viability and vitality of our industry. Covid has further highlighted the importance of a secure labour supply, but this is a challenge we have faced for many years. We must be thinking about what change is required to make fruit growing, packing and marketing even more attractive career options for young people and other job seekers. In addition to a local workforce, the RSE scheme will remain a critical component of our labour supply for years to come and HBFA will continue to support our product groups and HorticultureNZ in their work to protect the programme. Being proactive and adopting new ‘softer’ chemistry and growing techniques will require change in the way we do things and will also help us attract the next generation of talent, especially the Gen-Z workforce.
For HBFA, 2020 bought plenty of change as the Executive team worked hard to implement a new strategic plan. Further changes are planned for 2021, all with the common objective of meeting the needs of our members (current and future) and the wider industry. If you are passionate about our industry and want make a positive difference, think about joining our HBFA Executive team. Please make contact to find out more and see what’s involved.
Happy harvesting and I hope all growers are able to get the pickers they need. Remember to look out for your fellow growers and pursue opportunities to make best use of the limited labour available this season.