Primary industries need young leader competitions
Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust
25 July 2017
Primary industries need young leader competitions to help survive future threats
Call for more companies, media and leaders to get behind competitions like Young Horticulturist 2017
The importance of New Zealand’s competitions like ‘Young Horticulturist' and ‘Young Farmer’ should not be underestimated. The success of any primary industry such as horticulture is susceptible to uncontrollable factors like disease, weather and natural catastrophes, which makes fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation through these competitions essential to surviving adversity and maintaining this country as a significant food producer.
Announcing the continued sponsorship of the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition by Fruitfed Supplies, T&G and AGMARDT – the latter has just signed a three-year-sponsorship with Young Horticulturist – competition chair Elle Anderson said that while New Zealand faces mounting competition from emerging agricultural countries like Mexico, Peru, Morocco and Thailand, horticulture can stay ahead of the pack by making sure we’re better than our competitors at managing through any number of uncontrollable variables that could threaten food production anywhere in the world.
“Competitions like Young Horticulturist foster innovation, cross sector collaboration and leadership development, which are essential to making sure New Zealand stays competitive and at the forefront of global food supply. I want to urge New Zealanders in primary business, particularly the media and also producers, to better support competitions like Young Horticulturist because they’re not fluffy, ‘nice-to-haves’ – they’re essential to making sure we’re up for any challenge.
“At the moment the support we get, apart from a handful of committed companies, could be better. Within the RNZIH Education Trust, that runs the Young Horticulturalist, we’re all volunteers who commit money, time and resources to ensuring we build capable leaders who are innovative and collaborative, but we can’t do it alone. More need to step up and support these competitions with funding, publicity and resources.”
Ms Anderson said she particularly wanted to thank the loyal sponsors of Young Horticulturalist because their support demonstrated that they were all companies that “walked the talk” in expressing their commitment to the industry, its producers and the growers who spend money with them.
AGMARDT general manager, Malcolm Nitschke, in confirming the not-for-profit organisation’s three-year commitment to Young Horticulturist(AGMARDT is also a supporter of the NZ Young Farmers Contest), said horticulture has a tremendous future ahead, provided New Zealand stays at the cutting edge of innovation and technology, to maintain our competitive advantage and prevail through any crisis.
“The Kiwifruit industry’s current success is an excellent example of an industry that endured and adapted to the challenges and downturn cause by the PSA bacteria.
“In this New Zealand demonstrated a cutting-edge response in the way we responded and managed our way through the issues and risks that confronted us by using innovation and collaboration.”
AGMARDT has supported Young Horticulturist for more than ten years because AGMARDT’s mission is to foster the development of innovation and capability in the agricultural sectors, with a particular focus on building future leaders.
“Maintaining the strength of the sector requires leadership and young people with the right skills. The Young Horticulturist competition showcases some of the best young people in the sectors and exposes them to wider industry opportunities. Young Horticulturist is characterised by the fact that it is very much a competition based on the collaboration of a number of sectors in horticulture.
“People from different walks of life, like young leaders from amenities and viticulture, come together to compete on the same stage, and at the same time receive greater exposure to other talented people, influencers and sectors – it broadens their worldview, which is essential for developing their leadership skills,” Mr Nitschke said.
The national manager of Fruitfed Supplies, Max Spence, said his company supports events and activities that actually make a significant contribution, and there is no doubt that the Young Horticulturist competition fits that description.
“There is a real upside to what the event offers our younger people in the sector. It also introduces us to those people, and for anybody associated with the competition it demonstrates that Fruitfed Supplies is reinvesting in those sectors that do business with us. We’re all for supporting our customers.
“New Zealand’s horticultural sectors have a very bright future. The sustainability of the industry comes down to being able to produce a product that meets market demands and expectations. At the moment, New Zealand’s horticulturists recognise what the market requires and they are dealing to it in spades. For that reason, we are well positioned to a bright future. Variables like climatic conditions and fluctuating exchange rates mean that we must constantly aim to be better in other areas of production that we can influence,” Mr Spence said.
T&G’s executive general manager, New Zealand, Andrew Keaney said being able to adapt to changing consumer and business demands with agility enables businesses to flourish, including T&G which is currently celebrating 120 years.
“There has been rapid change in our industry and its only accelerating. As an industry, we need to keep adapting and evolving to meet the changing needs of our growers, retailers, wholesalers, consumers and people.
“We need to do more to attract people into our industry and retain great talent. The Young Horticulturist competition plays a key role in the attraction and retention of young people as it celebrates achievements, while testing and growing skills. We’re delighted to be supporting, once again, tomorrow’s industry leaders as they take part in this competition,” Mr Keaney said.
Starting April this year, the best young men and women from New Zealand’s horticulture industry have been going head-to-head in six sector competitions throughout the regions just to qualify to compete in the Education Trust’s ‘‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 Competition’. The competition is held to help identify and develop future leaders of horticulture.
The finalists will be drawn from the winners of six horticultural sector competitions:
• Horticulture NZ (fruit and
• New Zealand Plant Producers Inc.
• NZ Winegrowers
• Amenity Horticulture supported by NZ Recreation Association
• NZ Flower Growers Inc. & FLONZI
• Landscape Industries Association of NZ (Landscaping NZ)
Finalists (30 years and under) compete for a prize pool of over $40,000 that includes a $7,500 travel and accommodation package for the winner and a $5,500 Massey University study scholarship for the runner up, as well as an AGMARDT Market Innovation Project first prize of $5,000.
The Young Horticulturist of the Year competition is made possible through the generous support of Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 competition partners AGMARDT, T&G and Fruitfed Supplies.
Supporters of the competition are Bayer CropScience, Horticentre Trust, Primary ITO, Countdown, NZ Gardener Magazine and Trillian Trust. Plus, Affiliated Supporters, Friends, Volunteers and industry specialists who give their time.
For more information about how to enter, visit www.younghort.co.nz