February 2023 update

By Jen Scoular

Our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by the recent Cyclone Gabrielle. It’s devastating to see the destruction left in Gabrielle’s wake throughout New Zealand. We really feel for our avocado growers who have been affected and also for our peers right across the horticulture sector.

The mid north region of New Zealand, where we have a large number of avocado orchards, was significantly impacted, though not as severely as other regions. We continue to work with our growers, providing what support they need from us.

It’s been the most unseasonal summer and these recent weather events are incredibly pertinent to some of the topics we’ll address at the 10th World Avocado Congress in April. Keynote speakers, including Brent Clothier, Cathy Burns and Lain Jager will discuss climate change and the global impacts on horticulture right now.

At the time of writing, there are six weeks to go until the World Avocado Congress. We recently hit a total of 1,024 delegates attending the congress – a fantastic milestone – well over our initial target of 850. Amazingly, it’s the overseas delegates, now over 650, that are breaking all the records (we originally had 450 as a stretch target). We hope that local growers will embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to down tools; join 1,000+ other avocado lovers and learn, share and network for a few days. That said, it’s has been a really tough year and we are collectively acknowledging that growing avocados in New Zealand needs good productivity and great quality to be financial sustainable. The realities of being a horticulturalist are often tough.

Having received over 160 abstracts, the three-day academic programme for the congress is looking terrific. Our keynote speaker line-up is nothing short of impressive. The congress will challenge what we think we know. Our speakers will likely pose uncomfortable question and concepts. But, to ensure the sustainable growth of the global avocado industry, we must consider the phrase ‘growth occurs outside the comfort zone’ and all play our part in a vital conversation about the future of the avocado sector globally.

The congress kicks off with field days on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April. Delegates will pile onto a bus with dozens of other people they’re yet to meet and head off to new pastures to hear from the hosts about innovation and a passion for knowledge, all the while wandering through a beautiful avocado orchard. Our field days have proven so popular they are almost sold out. They have been a huge and complex undertaking and I’m so grateful for the organisation taking place by my team behind the scenes.

The opening ceremony on Sunday 2nd April is intended to celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand. While the congress itself is focused on avocados, the opening ceremony is our opportunity to showcase our culture, our values and our amazing country. We are hoping our new Prime Minister to will join us in celebrating the opening of the congress and we hope to see you there too!

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