A newly-elected Horticulture New Zealand board member
is keen for the sector to boost its performance. He talks to
reporter Sally Brooker.
Afsaneh and Tony Howey check the progress of the
blackcurrant crop at their Pleasant Point property.Photo
Kiwi horticulturists need to become a lot more profitable to
realise their industry's goal of $10 billion in sales by
2020, Tony Howey says.
The Pleasant Point vegetable and berryfruit grower has just
become a director of Horticulture New Zealand.
He was elected by the 5500 commercial fruit and vegetable
growers whose levies fund the industry association. It has a
board of eight growers, plus 18 staff based in Wellington.
Mr Howey said horticulture ''needs to be more than a credible
investment alternative to the burgeoning dairy industry''.
''Horticulture should be a higher-value land use than growing
grass for an animal to consume.''
Although his sector was growing, dairying was growing more
''The reason why dairying is going gangbusters is because
it's profitable,'' Mr Howey said.
He wants HortNZ to take a strong leadership role to help make
the industry more profitable and sustainable, using eight
Promoting and supporting horticultural expansion as a
sustainable, high-value and high-employment land use that the
public will value and young people will want to join.
Encouraging participants to add value to horticulture
products to improve returns per volume.
Supporting New Zealand's ''brand story'' in all markets.
Helping growers reduce compliance costs and nuisance by
simplifying and standardising protocols.
Ensuring biosecurity breaches are challenged and risks
Ensuring growers cope with increasing environmental
Advocating for more research leading to innovation,
technology and greater efficiencies.
Lobbying, in conjunction with other rural bodies, in areas
such as labour availability, free trade opportunities and
Education and spreading knowledge will be important in
improving horticulture's performance, Mr Howey said.
There are lessons it can learn from dairying, especially in
adding value to what is grown. New Zealand mainly exports
dried milk powder, which has the water removed before being
Fruit and vegetables are largely water, and bulky to
transport. Instead of shipping onions to Europe, for example,
New Zealand could be sending onion flakes or powder. And
instead of sending whole carrots, it could extract the juice
to be sold.
If New Zealand brands were developed and marketed well, that
would add another layer of profit for growers, Mr Howey said.
He cited Zespri and Comvita as good examples of horticulture
brand successes, although Zespri was still dealing in bulky
The availability of seasonal workers to harvest crops was ''a
very big problem'', Mr Howey said.
The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme had helped hugely by
supplying overseas workers while many New Zealanders were
taking a month off every summer just when crops were ready.