I want to start this month’s report with a huge congratulations to Regan Judd – sector manager for T&G, for winning the prestigious “Young Horticulturist of the Year” award last week. The event was held in Auckland and involved 7 outstanding individuals from all aspects of Horticulture who had each won their respective regional finals. It has been a 17 year wait for HB to win this event since Dean Astill in 2005.
Regan’s national success is testament not only to his ability but also his resilience and hard work – he is a 2x winner of the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year (2019/21). We hope that his success will inspire other young people currently employed in our local industry to put their names forward for this event which has now been running for 17 years since it was established by the association in 2005 (Dean Astill was the inaugural winner).
As I’ve touched on previously, HBFA is committed to supporting the industry to access labour – this is no easy task in a climate of record low unemployment. In early November the association led the “Pick the Bay” job expo at Tōmoana Showgrounds. This event was exceptionally well supported by employers with 23 exhibitors in attendance. While jobseeker turnout was underwhelming, it was a definitive and poignant example of the efforts our industry is putting in to attract local labour and I commend those of you who attended.
It is interesting to note that 65% of Jobseekers surveyed at Pick The Bay have never worked in horticulture before, and the same percentage were interested in receiving ongoing training and making a career from the industry. This supports the potential opportunity that exists to identify future permanent staff from your seasonal workforce.
The development of pathways for young people to enter the industry remains a key area of focus for the association. We are proactively feeding into HortNZ’s review of how the industry delivers career progression initiatives and will be advocating strongly for more investment and support to position fruitgrowing as a viable career option.
We have had a challenging spring with record rainfall in most areas. I’m hearing of ongoing issues relating to tractors, sprayers & mowers getting stuck down rows – surely things must dry our soon!
Along with crazy weather, the industry is dealing with several unique challenges spanning from staff shortages to regulatory hurdles and poor returns – it’s no wonder some people are feeling overwhelmed. We have a responsibility as an association to support the wellbeing of our members which is why we are getting behind is Mates4Life. This is a suicide awareness and prevention programme that is being delivered to workplaces and organisations across Hawke’s Bay. We are keen to build a wide network of support persons or “safety aiders”. These will be trained volunteers who will make themselves available to support anyone who feels the need to chat to someone they can trust. If you are interested in learning more about Mates4Life or would like to put yourself forward for training, please contact Dean Smith on either 027 233 9900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On a more positive note, early this month HBFA held our annual fishing competition – this is always a great event and I want to thank all our sponsors who give generously to make this such an outstanding occasion in our calendar. I’m advised that this year’s event attracted over 100 anglers, over 60 of whom went home with a prize.
The 2023 harvest season is now just around the corner and one thing I know after all my years in this industry is that you never get two seasons the same. I’m therefore looking forward to a great harvest for our region, with good weather, plenty of available labour and sustainable prices for our produce!
All the best,