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Grower Profile Lakhvir Singh, Dhindsa Farm Limited
From Greengrocer to Grower
“Survivability of growers is necessary to maintain enough supply to meet increasing demand in New Zealand”
In 2015 Lakhvir Singh, owner of Dhindsa Farm Limited, purchased a run-down property in Waiuku, South Auckland. Over the last seven years he’s invested substantial amounts into building new greenhouses, installing a large packing shed, new heating systems, irrigation and environmental controls and upgrading one of the older structures.
The greenhouses areas’ cover over one hectare. The business employs six full time staff. The greenhouses are plastic structures four meters high. The crops grown are mostly tomatoes, but also eggplants and on occasions rock melons have been grown at the property. Also, there is a small tunnel house dedicated to growing strawberries. The produce is sold and distributed by T&G.
Image, Dhindsda Farms own brand of cherry tomatoes Kelvin’s Cherry Tomato. Below are questions and responses from Lakhvir regarding his journey and his thoughts on the industry.
When did you start growing?
We purchased the property in quite a run-down condition in 2015. We started growing the same year, while doing a big clean-up and getting things in good order. The site itself has grown in the past seven years, (and it doesn’t feel like seven years have passed already) shows how far we have come on our journey.
Why did you start growing?
At that time, we had our own retail greengrocer store and we had good connections in the market. We considered the benefits of growing our own produce, we planted a small quantity of different vegetables to supply our store, alongside our main crops that we started supplying to the wholesalers. We also have our family roots in farming back in Punjab, India, so that was a big influence and source of excitement for entering into growing in New Zealand especially with the new technologies and knowledge in growing here.
How is your pest and disease level?
We do not have any significant issues with insects. In winter Leaf mould and botrytis have caused problems but we have controlled this with appropriate products available. We are thankful for a great growing environment that is resulting in high quality harvest, which has been complimented over the years for their richness of flavour. We are progressing towards biological, sustainable methods of managing insects/pests to keep control of any issues that do arise, we aim to stay away from harsher chemical options.
What, from industry, would be beneficial/helpful to your business?
Growers in the current market are facing a lot of uncertainty in prices, often not getting enough say or control over how their produce moves and what prices they might get. This is unfortunate when the end consumer is still paying high retail prices, so those margins are taken up by other parts of the supply chain. Survivability of growers is necessary to maintain enough supply to meet increasing demand in New Zealand, if growers are forced to pull out from certain crops or growing altogether prices will increase even more. Increased education for growers to build their own relationships and supply chains, go direct to retail, negotiate etc. could be valuable in taking ownership of our supply.
What are the immediate issues facing your business?
Unstable pricing in the market while costs of fertilisers/chemicals/energy are increasing at quite an intense rate. Labour shortage issues are also ongoing.
How has covid affected your business?
Covid’s effects are especially felt in the increases to costs and goods including our local and internationally sourced consumables such as substrates.
What do you like about growing?
It is our passion, something that our heritage lies in from Punjab, that we have now brought here to New Zealand. Growing gives us new challenges, having been in the greengrocer retail industry for around twenty-four years. We recently sold that business to focus on growing and to keep expanding this business. You can see that from the investment we have put into our site and our businesses, from the new greenhouses to the new heating system. Fresh produce is an essential industry, it serves a key role in the wellbeing of our local and wider community. We like taking on these challenges and producing quality goods that we are proud to supply.
Recycled oil is used to provide heating to the property. It has been a large investment but makes effective use of a waste product.
The new packhouse has recently been completed.
Article by Grower2Grower
Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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