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Smart people needed to feed 9.6 billion people

PRESS RELEASE

Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust

26 April 2016

Smart people needed to feed 9.6 billion people on less land with less water

Search on for 2016 Young Horticulturist of the Year

WANTED: Young people who are up to the challenge of helping to increase global food production by 70% – to feed 9.6 billion people by 2050 – on limited available land and with declining fresh water stocks, while also confronting climate change. The ability to use highly sophisticated technology that hasn’t been invented yet, is essential.

According to The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), these are just some of the challenges that young future food producers will need to meet, and the hunt is now on for the young New Zealand men and women who will be called upon to take up the baton

Starting this April young horticultural leaders from all over New Zealand will compete in six sector competitions in order to qualify for the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2016 Competition’ – the people who in essence will be at the forefront of meeting our future food needs and more.

Chair of The Education Trust, Nicola Rochester, said that horticulture for the young men and women who will lead food production during the next 50 years is as much about information, technology and software as it is about seeds, soil and plants.

“Call it precision farming, or smart agriculture, but the future of horticulture will be dominated by corporations who will rely on highly intelligent and qualified – yet intuitive – men and women to utilise sophisticated technology, who can analyse and use all kinds of data from crop yields and soil mapping to marketing demographics.

“Whilst food and wine sectors in horticulture are where the bucks are in terms of export dollars, the nursery, landscape, amenity and floral sectors are the heart and soul of horticulture: as these sectors are creating beautiful healthy environments for work and play in our cities and parks and our own back yards.

“That’s what makes this competition exciting is the diversity which brings enrichment to all those participating,” she said.

Winner of the Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’, viticulturist Caleb Dennis, said that his career was a toss up between marine biology and viticulture, but he’s glad he chose the latter.

“Horticulture is a dynamic industry and there so many opportunities to excel, especially when you think about the level of technology that is already in use; it's not just about being a farmer getting his hands dirty anymore – technology is an integral part of farming today,” he said.

The finalists will be drawn from the winners of six horticultural sector competitions:

· Horticulture NZ (fruit and vegetable sectors)

· Nursery and Garden Industry of New Zealand

· NZ Winegrowers

· Amenity Horticulture supported by NZ Recreation Association

· NZ Flower Growers Inc. and Floristry NZ Inc.

· Landscaping New Zealand

Finalists (30 years and under) compete for a prize pool of over $40,000 that includes a $7,500 T&G travel and accommodation package and a $5,500 Massey University study scholarship, as well as an AGMARDT Market Innovation Project first prize of $5,000.

For more information about how to enter, visit www.younghort.co.nz for more information

The Young Horticulturist of the Year competition is made possible through the generous support of: Young Horticulturist of the Year Partners; Fruitfed Supplies, AGMARDT and T&G.

Young Horticulturist of the Year Supporters; Bayer CropScience, Massey University, Primary ITO, Countdown, NZ Gardener Magazine and Trillian Trust.

ENDS

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