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Presidents Report, November

Posted By Jo Pentreath | November 15, 2021

With plenty of rain and coming into some hot weather, Hawkes Bay’s summerfruit, pipfruit and kiwifruit will be growing well. Early Royal Rossa apricots and Mayglo nectarines will be ready in a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, some pockets of Hawke’s Bay were touched with hail a few weeks ago, causing damage to orchards in Bayview and Esk Valley. Also hit were orchards down Napier Road, Karamu Road and isolated areas near Haumoana- we certainly feel for those growers who have been affected.

Most apple growers have finished their thinning sprays now and as usual there is a mixed bag of results. For kiwifruit growers, long periods of rain and cool temperatures haven’t been ideal for pollination. Thinning is underway on many orchards and will be the major undertaking for growers over the next couple of months.

NZAPI’s labour meeting held on the 29th  October revealed some grim predictions for the coming harvest season, with labour shortages predicted to be in the vicinity of:

Thinning: 1,200
Harvest (picking): 1,612
Post harvest (packing): 1,381

Approximately 4,000 – 6,000 holiday working visa holders are still in New Zealand, but there is strong competition for their services from the hospitality sector who are also short of labour. Unemployment is extremely low which limits our potential labour pool.

The industry is on track to bring in the remaining RSE workers to reach our allocation of 14,400 workers. HorticultureNZ and NZAPI have built strong relationships with key Government Ministers and have been working tirelessly on growers behalf in this labour space. We are in unprecedented times; with a volatile economy due to COVID and a Government who has a very strong mandate to push through different policy changes in labour and immigration, we are in for a bumpy ride in the coming year.

Repatriation flights are occurring weekly now, some RSE workers are returning home for the first time in two years. Not only is this an opportunity for these workers to reconnect with loved ones but also an opportunity to recharge the batteries after a long stint in New Zealand.

This Friday we are holding our first Gumboot Friday event. I want to encourage as many of our growers to come – just walk straight off the block and join us for a sausage and beer down at the Cornwall Park Cricket Club. This will be a great time of connecting with other growers, networking and meeting some of our HBFA executives. We also have a couple of guests who will give an update on labour initiatives. As I’ve said in the past, as growers we need to support each other, be willing to help each other out with labour pooling where we can. I call on large supplier groups to support their smaller growers when the need is there – together I believe we can get through this. As an Association the well-being of all our growers is important to us, so please talk with each other and ask for help. HBFA will be checking in on our growers in the coming months so expect a check-up call at some stage.

Finally, I would like to end my report with a huge thankyou to NZAPI’s outgoing CEO, Alan Pollard. Alan has been CEO for nine and half years and the industry has grown immensely under Alan’s leadership. Alan’s support and willingness to share his in-depth knowledge of the industry has been invaluable to the Association and we wish Alan all the best in his next season of life.

Brydon Nisbet
HBFA President 

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