Importance of horticulture recognised in Government’s freshwater decisions

28 May 2020

Horticulture New Zealand says the Government’s decisions around freshwater recognise the importance of growing fresh fruit and vegetables in this country.

‘We applaud the Government for the pragmatic approach it is taking to meeting the long-term freshwater quality improvements that we all want,” says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Today’s decisions come at a time when many fruit and vegetable growers are uncertain about the future, due to the impact of COVID-19 and drought. 

‘That said, for many years now, growers have been investing heavily in improving freshwater quality and reducing environmental impact, by retiring land, putting in sediment ponds, and using precision irrigation and modern cultivation techniques. 

‘We feel that today’s decisions acknowledge that when it comes to land, water and the environment, growers know how to achieve the outcomes that the Government and consumers in New Zealand and across the world want.’ 

The Government’s recognition of the importance of horticulture sees the industry allowed to expand and enable the primary sector to diversify, as long as environmental bottom lines are met through audited Farm Environment Plans.  Proposed restrictions on horticulture intensification have been removed.  

Audited Farm Environment Plans embody the good management practices that HortNZ has been promoting and working on with growers across the country.  This approach strengthens internationally recognised industry programmes that have been in place for 20 years. 

Today’s decisions protect vegetable supply and improve food security by recognising the importance of key vegetable growing areas such as Pukekohe and Levin.  With these areas, the Government has acknowledged that water quality can be improved at the same time as these areas continue to provide New Zealand with high volumes of fresh vegetables. 

Mike says Horticulture New Zealand looks forward to continuing to work with the Government and share the horticulture sector’s expertise to achieve freshwater and other environmental objectives. 

‘Horticulture is well placed to help New Zealand recover, economically and socially, from COVID-19, while at the same time, improving freshwater quality and moving to a low carbon economy. 

‘Our sector has a wealth of expertise and is committed to water quality improvement.  All we ask is that this expertise is recognised and its application is supported, by central as well as local government. 

‘That is why we are supportive of today’s decisions and the approach being taken to reach the goals we all want – sustainable improvements to freshwater quality,’ says Mike. 

The New Zealand horticulture industry is now worth more than $6.39 billion a year and employs approximately 60,000 people.