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Guide on how to be healthy and safe in horticulture

Al McCone, WorkSafe Sector Lead for Agriculture - 03 Nov '17

At this time of year, life is getting busy for avocado businesses. Unfortunately, when workplaces get busy, the likelihood of someone being harmed while working increases. Read more about how you can be healthy and safe in horticulture.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 all businesses have a responsibility to keep workers healthy and safe.

“What this takes is some underlying health and safety planning and management as part of your everyday operation. It’s not just about paperwork, it’s about everyday good business practice,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe Sector Lead for Agriculture.

“The key is in three simple actions: 

  • identify the risks
  • work out how to eliminate them (or if they can’t be eliminated, managed)
  • then make sure everyone in the workplace understands both risks and management. 

‘Everyone’ includes contractors. There are specific requirements when other businesses are working on your property - you need to make sure you are aware of each other’s risks and are jointly managing these.

“There are some real basics you need to get right, like making sure machinery and vehicles are fit for purpose and safe to use, or making sure that people are competent to safely do the tasks they are doing. 

“In addition, you need to pay real attention to the things that can cause fatalities and serious injuries – for these ‘critical’ risks, you need to work out how to separate the person from the risk.”  

WorkSafe New Zealand and Horticulture NZ have published a horticulture-specific guide called Keep Safe, Keep Growing:  How to be Healthy and Safe in Horticulture to help you.

  • The guide will help you work out:the best way for you to identify, manage and communicate health and safety risks to family and workers
  • what part other people on farm should play in risk management.

“Health and safety doesn’t just happen. It needs a conscious decision to make a healthy and safe workplace. ” says McCone.

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NZ Avocado presents 2017-18 service and grower awards at the New Zealand Avocado International Industry conference 2018

NZ Avocado presents 2017-18 service and grower awards at the New Zealand Avocado International Industry conference 2018 The New Zealand Avocado International Industry conference gala dinner provided a great platform to recognise longstanding contributors to the New Zealand avocado industry and celebrate the success of individual grower success over this past season. This recognition was acknowledged through a number of service and grower awards for 2017-18. Two service to industry awards were presented to recognise service and achievement to the avocado sector. The recipients of these awards were Helen Gray and William (Bill) F.T. Hartill. Helen has been involved in the avocado and kiwifruit post-harvest industry for over twenty years. As an active participant at an avocado industry governance level contributes to avocado quality, EMS, AvoGreen and market access discussions. Helen made a significant contribution to the industry in the China audit of avocado packing facilities and procedures for the export of New Zealand avocados with her attention to detail key to the success of the project. Originally from the UK, Bill immigrated to New Zealand in 1969. Bill’s research was paramount to our understanding of post-harvest rots with his work identifying key rot pathogens and that avocados were susceptible from infection from the time of fruit set through to harvest. Bill’s significant work on spray trials helped the industry ascertain what was necessary to adequately control a range of pathogens. The NZ Avocado Growers’ Association recognises and acknowledges both Helen's and Bill's contribution to the NZ avocado industry and honours them as recipients of the Service to Industry Award. The New Zealand Avocado Award is the industry’s highest service award. It acknowledges and recognises contributions to the avocado sector that change or alter the business resulting in advancement forward in the avocado sector. This was awarded to Asbhy Whitehead. Ashby was an elected NZAGA representative on the Board from 2006 to 2017 and in 2013 was elected Chair of the Board and held this position until 2017. Under Ashby’s leadership as Chair of the industry, he had a single mantra – does it make the board go faster? Ashby pushed for growth, supported management in seeking external funding that would support that growth and sought focussed research to improve productivity. The NZ avocado industry with Ashby at the helm, has well and truly delivered on the industry vision and strategic objective. The NZ Avocado Growers Association recognises and acknowledges Ashby Whitehead’s vision, commitment and drive for the NZ avocado industry and honours him as a recipient of the New Zealand Avocado Award. Grower awards were introduced three years ago to recognise those growers with outstanding production and consistency. The grower awards given are highest production, most consistent grower and top grower. Awards are determined by data that includes all fruit that is packed in a registered packhouse and the hectare information provided by growers during their registration. To be eligible for an award, the orchard must be at least 1.5 hectares in size. The highest production award goes to the grower with the highest tons per hectare from a PPIN. For the 2017-18 season, highest production was awarded to Bridget Maher, Lee Crawshaw and Sharlene Darragh with exceptional production of 34.8 tonnes per hectare. NZ Avocado use an irregular bearing index (IBI) to decide on our most consistent grower award winners. The IBI is calculated by dividing the difference between the previous two crops from an orchard by the sum of those two crops. Orchards with production increases for three consecutive seasons are said to have an IBI of 0. This past season 89 orchards achieved an IBI of 0. To decide on the winner of this award we look at the orchard with an IBI of 0 and the highest four-year average production. For the 2017-18 season the most consistent grower is awarded to Kevin Thomas and Dani O’Connor with an IBI of 0 and four-year average production of 20.2 tonnes per hectare. The top grower award is presented to the grower who has the highest four-year average production. Despite a lower production this past season, taking out the top grower award for a third consecutive year is Maria and Andrew Watchorn, with an outstanding four-year average production of 26.5 tonnes per hectare.  Thank you to all who attended to celebrate the success of these growers and outstanding contributors to the Avocado industry. We congratulate again the well deserving recipients of all awards.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opens international avocado conference

The Right Honourable, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the New Zealand Avocado International Industry Conference in Tauranga today. The Prime Minister congratulated avocado growers of the recent success of the New Zealand avocado industry which has been driven by a carefully grown, premium quality product which meets the needs of health conscious consumers globally.  “In a very short time we’ve seen the appetite for avocados – a fruit that was not that long ago considered exotic – grow exponentially. That is testament to the passion and dedication of all of you.”   The Prime Minister talked about her grandparents having an avocado orchard when she was a child, and her appreciation of the hard work involved in bringing them to our tables.  NZ Avocado CEO Jen Scoular says “The New Zealand Avocado International Industry Conference is a celebration of our industry, focussing on our future success in the global avocado world.” The avocado conference is hosting international visitors, including speakers Loren Zhao, co-founder of China’s largest online fresh produce retailer Fruit Day; Mr Jorge Restrepo, Executive Director of Corpohass Columbia and Professor Neena Mitter from the University of Queensland. Dr Nicholas Gill, Strength and Conditioning coach for the New Zealand All Blacks and an avocado grower himself will also speak at the event. Gill will share the secrets of New Zealand rugby’s ongoing success on a global stage and talk about the role of avocados in high performance sports nutrition and in eating well in New Zealander’s everyday lives. Scoular says “We are delighted at the level of support the New Zealand avocado industry has received for this event, from the Prime Minister and our international guests, participants, speakers and sponsors.” There is huge demand for our avocados in international markets and a lot of interest from other avocado supply countries in the industry systems that enable New Zealand to produce premium quality, safe and sustainable avocados for the world. Horticulture experts will share ideas and new research with growers at the conference to enable us to continue to increase supply of New Zealand avocados to meet surging global demand.” The New Zealand Avocado International Industry Conference runs from 29-31 August in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Fruit thefts - growers urged to be extra vigilant

NZ Avocado has received recent reports of avocado theft from orchards in Bay of Plenty and Northland. Growers are encouraged to please report thefts and any unusual activity in their area to NZ police as soon as possible.  If you see something & say something. New Zealand Police recommend the following: Be extra vigilant and take steps to prevent theft, including increasing security around your orchard. If you witness any suspicious behaviour contact your neighbouring orchards to ensure others are also keeping a look out. If a theft takes place the New Zealand Police encourage reporting in all instances: If witnessed at the time of theft call the Police emergency line on 111 immediately. Try to take as many details as you can of the thieves including their appearance and any vehicles and vehicle registration numbers etc. If you discover fruit has been stolen but you did not witness the theft, contact your local police station. If you have had fruit stolen recently but have not yet reported it, contact your local police station. If you are approached by anyone trying to sell car boot loads of avocados, take a description of the person and their vehicle registration and report the activity to your local police station. What you can do to help protect your fruit: Install security cameras or if you are unable to do this, install signage as a deterrent that says the orchard is under surveillance. Theft prevention signs can be ordered by emailing jo.nunn@nzavocado.co.nz - two signs per PPIN. Install a driveway alarm to alert you of people entering your property Keep any gates to the orchard locked or install an electronic pin code gate Have a regular walk around your orchard to stay alert of anything unusual or potential risk areas that you may want to address Use your phone to take photos if you do see anything suspicious

AIC Ltd becomes NZ Avocado Industry Ltd

Following a decision at the March board meeting to change the name of AIC Ltd, the NZAGA Executive Committee last week approved a name change for that entity from Avocado Industry Council Ltd to New Zealand Avocado Industry Ltd. This name change was registered at the Companies Office on 1st August 2018. New Zealand Avocado Industry Ltd is now the new name for AIC Ltd, the operating entity and subsidiary of NZAGA. There are a number of reasons for doing this. One of the Directors had raised some time ago the confusion caused by two long names to describe our industry body, NZ Avocado Growers Association and Avocado Industry Council, AIC. We have over the past four or five years informally resolved this by calling ourselves NZ Avocado. However, that was only ever informal, and it was time to formalise our industry name. The Board confirmed that the name NZ (or New Zealand) Avocado Industry Ltd is a more appropriate name. Secondly, we are setting up a digital platform in China as the industry body for avocados from New Zealand. Under the former name, AIC Ltd, there was no association with “New Zealand”, so it defeated the purpose of being able to authenticate the origin of our avocados and authenticate the New Zealand brands marketing avocados from New Zealand. Additionally there was an error more than a decade ago in how the recognised product group for avocados was noted on the Horticulture Export Authority order. This will be corrected by requesting to the Minister that our new name is inserted into the order, replacing AIC. NZ Avocado Industry Ltd will be shortened to NZ Avocado, the subsidiary of NZAGA. This will be more formerly advised at the AGM on 29th August.

Early bird tickets on sale now - NZ Avocado International Industry Conference

Tickets are now on sale for the New Zealand Avocado International Industry conference to be held 29-31 August 2018 at ASB Baypark, Tauranga, New Zealand. An event that only happens every 3-4 years, the conference is a great opportunity to be inspired, to connect with others and to enable growers to enhance their knowledge and be better prepared to grow quality fruit for the world. Themed 'growing avocados for the world' the event represents the exciting opportunity the industry has to continue to expand across an international marketplace, and will showcase an array of industry speakers. Loren Zhao, Co-founder of Chinese online produce company Fruit Day, will travel to New Zealand to speak to avocado growers at conference. “Recent market access approval for avocados from New Zealand to China has resulted in an exciting new opportunity for the avocado industry.” says Chair Tony Ponder. “Growers and industry stakeholders are hungry for knowledge about this new market for our avocados and we are privileged to have a speaker of Loren’s calibre show interest in the avocados we grow here in New Zealand.” Fruit day is China’s largest online fresh produce retailer with over 4 million customers shopping online for imported fruit and vegetables every day. “We have seen huge growth in demand for avocados in China over the past three years as information about the health benefits becomes more well known by wealthy Chinese consumers” says Zhao. The current boom in health, wellness and fitness, plus a consumer focus on food provenance and food safety puts New Zealand in a great position to align itself with the needs of Chinese consumers. Zhao says “With a great reputation for quality throughout Asia, there is a lot of interest from retailers in China on obtaining New Zealand avocado supply.” Also speaking will be Dr Nicholas Gill, performance coach and head strength and conditioning coach of the All Blacks. Gill, an avocado grower himself, will speak to growers about the role of avocados in peak sporting performance and how they can be used to help everyday New Zealanders who want to live healthier lifestyles. “In my role as a performance coach I meet many Kiwi mums and dads who are becoming aware of their own health going downhill, and seeing their own bad habits reflected in the habits of their kids.” says Gill. “Whether its elite performance on the rugby pitch or just living healthier every day, fresh fruit and vegetables like avocado play a key role in helping New Zealanders live healthier lives.” For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.avocadoconference.co.nz

Strong avocado returns driving investment into industry

MEDIA RELEASE - 31 May 2018 The New Zealand avocado industry has just posted the draft result for the 2017-18 season of $150m in sales, with $105m from export markets and $45m from the New Zealand market.  This outstanding result has been achieved from 3.8m trays, just 50% of the production volume of the previous year, which achieved $200m across all markets.  Avocado exporters and New Zealand avocado suppliers acknowledge it has been a phenomenal season for avocado demand, with record returns to growers.  New Zealand Avocado Growers Association Chair Tony Ponder says “The Government’s five year Primary Growth Partnership investment and the commitment of research funding through Plant and Food Research and MBIE has strongly supported growth in returns to avocado growers.”  Orchard gate returns were as high as $40 per tray, a huge improvement from the $10-$12 per tray prior to this investment in 2012.  NZ Avocado CEO Jen Scoular comments “Demand continues to grow in all markets, and the focus is now on increasing productivity of existing orchards and supporting new orchard development.”  Growth in returns driving investment “Over 1,000 hectares of dairy and dry stock farms in Northland have been converted to avocado orchards over the past three years, and some of these orchards are expecting their first crops in the coming season” says Scoular.  In the Bay of Plenty, orchardists are rejuvenating orchards and investing in implementing best practice orchard management to reap the high values being returned for premium quality avocados.  These new avocado plantings and improving production will enable further growth towards the industry goal of $280m in total sales value by 2023. This will also help to bridge the current gap between avocado supply and demand in New Zealand and globally, with a growing supply of New Zealand fruit for avocado lovers to enjoy.  

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