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Growers lead new era in Industry Education

Media Release
Wednesday January 28 2003

NZ Pipfruit IFP Growers lead new era in Industry Education
- children to help grow apples and pears

A $30-million change to the way New Zealand pipfruit orchardists grow their apples and pears is creating a new partnership between industry and education.

Pipfruit Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) has seen a major transformation on the orchard where growers are working with nature’s own answers before resorting to man-made synthetic sprays.

As part of Pipfruit Growers of New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to its IFP programme the organisation today launched a Pipfruit IFP –“Reaching Growing Minds” school programme aimed at linking children throughout New Zealand, and potentially overseas, with pipfruit growers and their orchards.

The Pipfruit IFP School programme has been piloted with Hawke’s Bay’s first environmental school, Hastings Intermediate.

In just six years all New Zealand pipfruit growers have moved to either IFP (90% of growers) or organic (10%) methods - no other country has achieved such rapid uptake to this level.

An estimated investment by Industry and Government of $30 million over the past 10 years has placed NZ apple and pear growers well ahead of producers in other countries in their commitment to sustainable and safe production.

The change to Pipfruit IFP has lead to 60 percent fewer insecticides used on New Zealand orchards including a 90 percent reduction in organo-phostphate sprays and an 18 percent reduction in fungicide applications.

PGNZI Chief Executive Paul Browne said growers want to build and sustain greater awareness about Pipfruit IFP that encourages and motivates public interest and also highlights their commitment to producing safer pipfruit.

“New Zealanders have the safest and healthiest apples at their doorstep. But consumer research indicates that consumers don’t know about it,” Mr Browne said.

“As part of this project we have canvassed households about eating apples and pears and what they knew about how pipfruit is grown in New Zealand.

“Media have also given their time to take part in research which tested their level of understanding.

“The research findings supported what growers already knew – consumers know little, if anything, about the benefits of Pipfruit IFP.

“It also highlighted that children from a young age do have an influence in what goes into the supermarket trolley”.

During the last term of 2003 about 100 Hastings Intermediate students followed the pest monitoring quarter of the orchard year. They have been working with a dedicated teacher Ange Rathbone and grower Linzi Malley, along with Massey University education advisers.

The students have been creating pheromone traps and counting bugs, and even helped make decisions as to timing of sprays, or if sprays should be applied.

“We needed to find out if the pilot could be developed as a teaching resource at a national, and potentially an international level,” said Mr Browne.

“We also needed to gain grower support for the education resource by clearly demonstrating the school programme would deliver long-term benefits and value.

“The pilot has shown us that we have created an industry/education partnership which champions growers’ achievements and demonstrates leadership from the primary sector.

“We are reaching a target consumer market by tapping into households and encouraging children to eat more apples.

“As an education tool the pilot fits within the existing school curriculum and meets education objectives of working with industry,” he said.

Based on this positive feedback from teachers, students, industry, growers and education advisers – PGNZI and Hastings Intermediate will continue developing the full resource covering harvesting, packing, transport/logistics exporting and marketing.

“Our target is to begin rolling out a national programme next year partnering schools in horticultural regions with urban schools and linking these to growers.

“Longer term we will look to introduce NZ exporters and offshore retail partners to gradually develop linkages with schools and consumers in our export markets.
“We will also investigate developing unique branding to seek commercial advantage for producers and marketers of Pipfruit IFP,” Mr Browne said.
Other opportunities also include potential links with other New Zealand fruits which are involved in IFP production outside major pipfruit growing areas regions, a point of sale marketing campaign which promotes Pipfruit IFP, growers and the schools involved, and developing a web based educational programme.


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