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Rationalisation for horticulture industries

Period of rationalisation for country’s horticulture industries

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s (MAF) 2004 Farm Monitoring report into horticultural production identifies a period of rationalisation in the sector, with small growers leaving the industry while remaining growers are increasing their land holdings.

MAF’s Policy Group runs the annual monitoring process to examine the production and financial status of farms in terms of the cash income and expenditure. Trends, issues and sector concerns are also monitored.

The model orchards and vineyards depicted in the report are representative of their type within their regions. Growing operations around New Zealand have been examined, and information for each model is drawn from 20 real growers, and discussions with a wide cross-section of agribusiness.

The report finds that the value of horticultural exports decreased marginally by one percent in the year ending March 2003 to $2.09 billion, due to lower values for kiwifruit, fresh vegetables and processed vegetables. The main earners were kiwifruit ($564 million), apples ($380 million), processed vegetables ($275 million), wine ($275 million) and fresh vegetables ($251 million).

The report’s author, senior policy analyst Duane Redward, says climatic conditions have had varying impacts on the sectors, highlighting their reliance on the weather.

“While kiwifruit production was up significantly (13 percent), and the wine industry produced a record vintage of between 150,000 and 170,000 tonnes, process and fresh vegetable crops, together with apiculture, were significantly affected by the February floods,” Duane Redward explains.

“Five hundred and fifteen hectares of potatoes, 1,400 hectares of squash, 200 hectares of onions, 22 hectares of asparagus, 44 hectares of carrots and 2,000 beehives were destroyed. And heavy rains in December and February affected the quality of vegetables, summerfruit and berryfruit.”

The report says both the kiwifruit and wine industries have difficult selling seasons ahead due to big increases in production resulting in increased supply.

Most export sectors experienced downward pressure on prices due to the increased New Zealand dollar/US dollar exchange rate. Confidence levels, however, are high in the kiwifruit and apiculture industries due to a period of favourable returns.

Duane Redward says all the industries monitored are continuing to experience problems in recruiting both skilled and unskilled labour.

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