New Zealand horticulture, as part of that country’s primary production sector, has welcomed the New Zealand Government’s endorsement of the plan the industry developed to reduce climate change.
The plan is called the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment, or "He Waka Eke Noa, Our Future in Our Hands". Hort NZ CEO Mike Chapman says the horticulture, arable and animal sectors came together to develop the plan.
"The idea was for the primary sector to come up with a plan that responded to the Government’s climate change mitigation objectives, rather than have the Government tell the primary sector what to do to meet the objectives," he said. "The Government’s endorsement of the plan sends the strong message that if you respond to the Government’s objectives, it is likely to let you get on with it, which in my view, reflects where the expertise is. It is with growers and farmers – those that are constantly working with our land and water resources."
Mr Chapman says the key to making and demonstrating progress is audited Farm Environment Plans.
"These plans are a vehicle for growers to deliver freshwater quality outcomes, and reduce environmental impact," he explained. "So, it fits nicely together. Through Farm Environment Plans, we can measure progress and deliver on the agreement that we have with the Government."
HortNZ has also started work to identify the research and development needed for horticulture to continue to prosper and be able to meet medium to long term climate change commitments.
"We need new techniques and technology if we are going to meet the new targets. Our industry’s biggest challenges are to be as effective as possible with fertiliser and water application. That’s why tech transfer in the area of precision horticulture is so important,” Mr Chapman said.
He added that the feedback from HortNZ members has been positive.
“Many are anticipating the new requirements – which align with changing customer preferences – in their business objectives," Mr Chapman said. "The fact that the Government has not regulated means that we can be flexible and have the right responses, not only for the climate here in New Zealand but also for consumers around the world. So, this is a really ground breaking approach."
The latest Ministry for Primary Industries Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries shows that New Zealand horticulture export revenue is forecast to grow by 3.8 percent to $6.3 billion in the year to 30 June 2020.