Pipfruit orchards are full of flower with strong return bloom, good fruit set can be seen on summer fruit orchards and kiwifruit vines are fully laden with flower buds. So, amidst the discussion about looming challenges ahead (labour, politics, and global economics), it is worth pausing for a moment to enjoy spring and the promise a bountiful season ahead. Personally, it is the anticipation of a great crop that provides essential motivation to get through winter and spring when harvest seems a long way off.
As fruit growers we have probably never faced a more diverse range of both challenges and opportunities. On one hand demand for healthy, safe food is increasing rapidly especially in many of our key export markets. Horticulture has emerged as a rising star that promises to help lift our national economy out of recession with significant growth in fruit export earnings over the first six months of the year. New Zealand and Hawkes Bay continue to be recognised as one of the best places in the world to grow fruit.
On the other hand, we face huge uncertainty. Who is going to pick our fruit? Will the borders re-open for some of our Pacific neighbours? How many New Zealander’s will be prepared to try a career change and jump into seasonal jobs in horticulture? Will overseas consumers continue to buy our premium fruit, if economies struggle to recover from Covid-19?
At time like this it is often best to focus on what we can control. We can optimise the quality of our crops and maximise the market opportunities. We can work closely with our communities, fellow growers and other stakeholders to get as many Kiwis into jobs on our orchards and packhouses as possible. We can embrace the opportunity to upskill and grow our permanent workforce via the many training and education grants currently available.
One thing is for sure. People around the world won’t stop eating and Hawke’s Bay will continue to be one of the best places in the world to produce food!
I hope you enjoy this October newsletter and, as a new President, I very much look forward to engaging with as many of our members and supporters as possible over the next few months. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss anything effecting our industry that you believe deserves attention, or simply to ‘chew the fat’.