This week we celebrate Waitangi Day, a day symbolic of our nation’s sovereignty. At the end of last month, Britain took back its sovereignty from the European Union with Brexit taking effect.
Zespri is currently running its Momentum conference on sustainability with the by-line: standing up, standing out. Zespri’s focus is on the entire supply chain, from growing through to the arrival of kiwifruit in the retail outlet – the complete sustainability package.
Mike at the International Year of Plant Health launch at Parliament on 18 February
Can anyone deny that we need to urgently start capturing and storing water? Before we forget about the effects of the drought on New Zealand, it’s time for the Government and regional councils to commit to enabling water capture and storage.
Coronavirus or Covid 19 has impacted the world. Things that we have all taken for granted are under threat: unrestricted air travel, goods being rapidly shipped around the world and New Zealand being highly connected to the whole world despite being a long way from major population centres.
As a world we are focusing on people, with the World Health Organisation declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, travel restrictions in place, and events being postponed or cancelled.
Photo: 5+ A Day
We are now nearly a week into lockdown and I feel it is important for me to acknowledge the pressure and uncertainty that growers and others in our essential industry are under. From the reports I am getting, many growers are facing devastation with, as an example, no choice but...
Fresh fruit and vegetable consumption in Germany has increased by 100% since they were hit by COVID-19. Empty fruit and vegetable shelves are being spotted every day at Swiss retail stores, as daily order volumes are around 60% greater than normal.
The New Zealand Treasury has released an assessment on the impact of COVID-19, which makes very depressing reading. Treasury’s most dire prediction is unemployment could reach 26% and almost a third wiped off Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
We are all focused on doing our level best not to catch COVID-19.
An employer and someone sitting at home without a job have exactly the same problem: none of us know what is going happen as the country works its way through COVID-19.
Like a dog howling at the moon, Horticulture New Zealand has been on about the need for New Zealand to have a food security policy and plan.
We all know we need to redeploy unemployed workers. There are numerous ways of finding people who are looking for work. The challenge is getting the right fit for both the worker and the employer, with the skills for the role.
I am proposing that there is a third wave to New Zealand's COVID recovery plan. The first wave focused on the health of people. The second wave is focusing on the economy, with a large number of financial initiatives announced in last week's 2020 Budget.
It’s time to release our education from the shackles of the past. What worked pre-COVID will simply not work in the new world. If we try and replicate the current education system, growth and recovery will not be enabled.
Getting the COVID recovery right falls to all the small to medium sized businesses around the country, be they urban or rural based. It is a fallacy to think the Government will provide the recovery.
Even Auckland City is now realising the need to capture and store water. As a country, we are at a crisis point as climate change brings longer and more frequent droughts. Plants and humans need water to survive.
This week, the first round of the wage subsidy scheme ends. Businesses are now realising that there is an end to Government support and are asking, ‘where to next?’ The wage subsidy, and the next instalment of it, only mark time.
New Zealand is getting back to the business of making money with Covid Alert Level One seeing the re-opening of what was closed or restricted during Covid Alert Levels 4 and 3.
There is much we can learn from Covid, including international and New Zealand made lessons. The most critical is that the border is not secure. In the primary sector, we are only too aware that the border leaks. Biosecurity is one of our biggest concerns.
Are we going to take advantage of the many opportunities that Covid has presented us? After all, there are many downsides. The chance to remove unnecessary regulation is a key area in which we need to take advantage because unnecessary regulation stifles growth.
Our urban water crisis has been coming for some time and is not just limited to Auckland. Many other urban centres around New Zealand faced severe water shortages last summer. This water crisis is no longer just a once in many years event. It is the future.
The Fit for a Better World primary sector action plan was released by the Government on 6 July. It contains some seriously ambitious targets through three themes:
Our industry’s contribution to the Covid recovery would seem as simple of providing fresh healthy grown local vegetables and fruit. But since we emerged from lockdown, this has become much more difficult and can no longer be assured.
We are rapidly approaching spring and with spring comes harvest. First strawberries and asparagus, then cherries. At the same time, spring vegetable production steps up.
We pride ourselves in New Zealand as being innovators. The New Zealand horticulture industry is no exception to this reputation for innovation, with growers developing new and better techniques, constantly linking through to our sector’s research providers, for example Plant and Food Research.
The different world we now live in requires us all to learn new skills. It requires us to interpret what is happening in new and different ways. It requires us to listen to signals about the future in a way we have never done before.
One of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat healthy. Not only does healthy, locally grown produce boost your immune system, it also helps prevent diabetes and heart disease. So, getting that food to all New Zealanders is vital in these very trying Covid times.
Everyone having to cross the Auckland borders during Alert Level 3 – as well as the Police and Army who are managing the borders – is having a very tough time.
Despite the best efforts of the Police and the Army, the Auckland borders, particularly the southern borders, have been very tough going for everyone. As with everything, there are lessons to be learnt, and these border lessons must be learnt before another Covid border is put in place.
Across the country, businesses are closing or retrenching their staff as they try and deal with the realities of continued Covid lockdowns and border restrictions. No one knows how long this uncertainty will continue. The economic damage being caused by the Covid lockdowns and border restrictions will become clear in...
New Zealand’s immigration system wasn’t working before Covid hit, and it is clearly not working now. Today we have a golden opportunity to reinvent and reengineer our immigration system, which is largely paper based, complicated, and takes too long for applications to be processed.
Our GDP has hit rock bottom at minus 12.2% in the June quarter, and on top of that, the Government has already spent the $50 billion recovery package. The financial cupboard is literally bare. Everyone is talking about the rebound and they seem very confident about it.
Not only does New Zealand produce the world’s best fruit and vegetables, we are also producing the best people to grow the best produce. This is a collective effort across product groups, district associations and growers.
There are two essential requirements for New Zealand’s recovery that are slipping away. Commentators and economists are talking about turning to robotics and artificial intelligence, as if they are a tap that can simply be turned on.
The Government might change, but the challenges facing it will not. As Europe goes back into full on Covid lockdown, our first flight to Australia without quarantine requirements has taken off, with around 200 passengers. At the same time, there is a charter flight from Russia with fishermen to keep...
Freshwater quality and climate change mitigation are inexplicably linked to the whole country creating a sustainable environment. This job is for both urban and rural New Zealand to tackle together. What is often missed is how creating a sustainable environment is linked to businesses being profitable.
When I did an internet search, I found that there were just under one billion ideas about what sustainability means. The classic dictionary definition is “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level” or the “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an...
Photo from Plant & Food Research.
House prices across the country have risen nearly 20% to a median $725,000 in the past 12 months. At the same time, New Zealand’s Reserve Bank has announced a $28 billion programme aimed at forcing down borrowing costs and left the official cash rate at 0.25%.
Eight months ago, New Zealand went into Covid Level 4 lockdown, and our world changed. Nothing this year has been normal, and nothing has been predictable based on past experiences. The first casualty of Covid was our health, then our freedom of travel and they were quickly joined by the economy.
There is a belief that the way to get New Zealand out of the economic recession we are in is automation: robotics and artificial intelligence. I have to say that in Government circles in Wellington, this is often a firmly held belief.