Despite experiencing the PSA outbreak first-hand growing up, Animal and Plant Health scholarship winner Sarah Wilson says deciding to study agribusiness was the best decision she could make.
The 2022 season was expected to have a record-breaking crop of at least 190 million trays of kiwifruit which would have overtaken last year’s record of over 177 million trays.
However, revisions in the forecast indicate that this year’s volume will be below that of 2021.
Currently, it is thought that labour supply, crop loading and weather are responsible for this reduction, but New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) say investigations are ongoing.
2022 marks the first year that Zespri’s RubyRed kiwifruit was picked as a commercial variety, which was then followed by the gold and green varieties.
Despite the uncertainty of seasonal labour supply at the beginning of the year, all growers had the opportunity to have their kiwifruit picked and packed.
The success of the 2022 harvest hinged on the industry supply chain’s ability to operate effectively with a restricted labour supply under the changing Covid-19 settings.
NZKGI chief executive Colin Bond says that experience of Covid-19 from the two previous seasons gave the industry the foresight to streamline processes across the supply chain to mitigate foreseeable risks.
“Growers and the wider industry were under immense pressure to ensure that New Zealand’s kiwifruit were harvested,” he says.
“Our industry plays a critical role in employing both permanent and seasonal workers as well as supporting local businesses associated with the industry in our kiwifruit regions across New Zealand.
“I would also like to make special mention of the RSE workers from the Pacific Islands who stepped up under extraordinary circumstances to fill roles where New Zealanders could not be found,” says Bond.
“Getting all the fruit off the vines would have been unlikely without them.”