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Observations from my recent onsite visits
New and old properties with potential require transferable knowledge
This year I am making a conscious effort to get out of my Covid office bubble and return to visiting growing sites. It is a relief to travel again, helping customers in different regions other than Auckland and the Waikato. Adapting our business to work via video conference has been ideal during covid and this will continue as part of our strategy, it saves on unnecessary travel and it still delivers really good value. However, it is still very important to physically visit properties to get a sense of layouts, movement of staff & produce. Systems, especially around efficiencies, are crucial in a competitive market where returns are everything. Every movement and even placement of equipment will determine how long a job or process takes.
As I pondered, over the weekend, (while the All Blacks dazzled Ireland and the Warriors were faultless) what I had observed in the last couple of months, I am excited that not only are greenhouse horticulture opportunities are increasing, but there is a need for continual reporting around ever-changing growing systems. Technology and techniques are changing rapidly, sometimes so quickly it is hard to keep ahead of them.
It can be confusing and I believe there are some key things that may indeed help growers, (apart from making sure you read Grower2Grower every two weeks)
What may help your situation:
- Independent Advice – Engaging with multiple suppliers is an excellent source of gathering information and knowledge. Suppliers are essentially selling you their best and most up to date technology they have available. I still believe it is important to seek independent advice to give you confidence in your decision making. This may be expensive but necessary even if you are an established business or a new venture.
- International travel – Over the last two- three years travel has been unrealistic for most of us. The opportunity to see new systems and techniques, in person, at international properties or conferences has been off the cards. There is fantastic knowledge in New Zealand to draw from, but there is nothing like travelling to broaden your knowledge. Even for existing businesses, techniques and systems are constantly changing. A colleague of mine, and seed representative has just returned from Holland where she said “the trip really outlines how important a regular catch up with the breeders is – a lot of progress has been made the past three and a half years”
- Understanding the Market –I would prefer to have a market to supply before I built my greenhouse ‘build it and they will come’ is what we could have done in the past and is still done where a grower has a gut feeling or inkling, however I would investigate the potential market and if possible secure supply agreements. Your buyer will appreciate this, and it will make it much easier to find a home for your produce. An example: I see a real possibility for the current niche Banana market in New Zealand moving to a more developed market in the near future -everyone eats bananas and if we get the varieties, the structures and the systems correct then this can only be good for our food security and creating wealth and wellbeing this country.
Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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