Avocados shine at the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Jen Scoular 

We presented the 2019 NZ Avocado business plan to the Board in March, looking ahead to our 2023 Primary Growth Partnership goals, and out further to 2040.

A key theme across all primary industries at the moment is how we make sure the activities we are doing now will support the future of our industry.

At the Te Hono summit recently there was a strong theme through the presentations and in our discussion about how primary industries make sure they are future focused, and focused on a low footprint.

Our marketing strategy of premium avocados from New Zealand reflects our strong ‘clean and green’ New Zealand brand. We promote the story of our growers nurturing avocados on the tree, growing under blue skies in fertile soils and watered with fresh pure water.

As an industry, we need to have evidence-based research that supports the way we grow avocados. We need to be able to give consumers certainty in our production, and traceability back to the beautiful orchard shots we promote to our consumers.

Sustainability is about more than the environment. It is about sustaining the economic, environment and social aspects of our industry.

I was very proud to congratulate our growers in the recent Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Sandy and Franz Imlig of Lower Kaimai won three categories, the WaterForce Integrated Management Award, the Predator Free NZ Trust Predator Free Farm Award and the Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award, while Rochelle Kean and her parents Kevin and Ann-Marie Evans of Athenree took home the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Award.

The evening celebrated growers and farmers making extraordinary efforts in their environmental and sustainable on-orchard practices.

We have made progress in our Primary Growth Partnership extension application, anticipating we can include the work required to provide evidence to support this sustainability story. However, we also need to make sure the economics of our industry are sustainable.

The economics does rely on being able to produce premium quality avocados.

The 2018 season will be viewed as challenging, with lower fruit quality. This is due to a number of factors, like wetter than normal weather, rain during harvest and early maturity, but we need to be making significant changes and upping our game. Best practice research exists, and includes five steps a grower should be taking: checking fruit rot history, orchard hygiene, harvest management, optimal tree health and copper application.

So, let us all take responsibility and be proactive in ensuring these practices are followed on the orchard.

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