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Horticulture NZ developing with partnerships

Horticulture New Zealand developing with partnerships

Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton congratulated Horticulture New Zealand, the new representative body for the industry, tonight, at their first annual conference in Auckland.

"Horticulture New Zealand is a well-functioning group, with the support of its participants, ready to do their best in the global market. The organisation is working in partnership with government on the challenges we face in the sector. In the peak harvest season just completed, there were no major shortages of seasonal labour. Yet unemployment is lower than any time since 1982," Jim Anderton said.

"This is a significant industry earner for New Zealand. Since 1980 our horticultural exports have increased twenty-fold, from $115 million a year to $2.3 billion. It permanently employs fifty thousand New Zealanders, including downstream service industries. Another forty thousand find seasonal work in horticultural industries. Horticulture earns seven percent of our merchandise exports and during 2005, fruit, vegetables and flowers from New Zealand were sold to 108 countries around the globe.

"In biosecurity, as in all our environmental care, we need to ensure we have world leading practice to stay ahead of the challenges coming on this front. This is why the government is making significant investment in biosecurity and our strategy is based on the principle we should direct our limited resources to areas where they will be most effective. It requires everyone to play a role.

"Partnerships are essential to this sector and they exist in a number of other ways. New Zealand is competing against many countries, which have poor labour protections and wage levels but there is no future in fighting for supermarket shelf space on price alone with these countries - and nor should we aspire to! We can only continue to compete by moving up the value chain if we continue to differentiate ourselves by our strengths, using science and innovation.

"One example of partnerships at work is the sweetcorn growing toolkit, which packaged science in a form that is accessible and useful to growers. Another project trials the use of steam as an organic treatment for blackspot in pip fruit - one of the biggest problems for organic apples. Another project - this year - uses bees to deliver a biocontrol agent for the treatment of botrytis in berryfruit. There is a lot to be gained from working together.

"Another example of existing partnerships is the sustainable farming fund. It is a source of almost ten million dollars a year for sustainable farming projects. Examples range from floriculture to vegetables, new crops to well established crops, and small emerging industry groups like Arnica to large well-resourced groups like pip-fruit.

"I want to congratulate everyone involved with Horticulture New Zealand for the successful transition of this new representative body for the industry. The President, directors and Chief Executive deserve recognition, and so does the wider industry for supporting the new body. We need partnerships to work because we have a lot to do," Jim Anderton said tonight in Auckland.

ENDS

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