The New Zealand horticulture sector is facing some problems as it attempts to get some sanity into achieving quality environmental outcomes. Horticulture NZ chair Barry O'Neil - a former high-ranking government bureaucrat – stated that the sector is facing layer-upon-layer of officials and bureaucrats and they don't seem to be talking the same language as the industry.
He says the hort sector already has good systems in place to give assurance over environmental outcomes with NZGAP. This stands for good agricultural practices and was established in 1998 to provide assurance about the safe and sustainable production of fruit and vegetables in New Zealand.
NZGAP certification provides growers with a credible assurance framework, which enables them to meet multiple supermarket and regulatory obligations.
However, O'Neil says instead of recognising this reputable system, officials are forcing a new issuing process into the system with additional compliance costs and fees. He says the bureaucracy seems to have got progressively worse over the years, since he worked in government.
O'Neil believes that "risk adversity" has got to a level where no one is prepared to make decisions because they are scared they will get their "head chopped off". "We seem to be making decisions on outcomes by process rather true leadership," he adds. "We are using a process to achieve a result when we don't even know whether that will be the best for the country and people of NZ."