Friday, 14 November 2014 13:54

Northland orchardist wins big

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PATRICK MALLEY from Northland was the big winner at last night's Young Horticulturist of the Year awards, taking home the top prize and three other awards.

The kiwifruit and avocado grower was one of five finalists, all under the age of 30 to compete in the grand final competition. Over two days contestants were expected to complete a range of activities including practical activities, computer management skills, presentation skills, and an interview by a panel of judges.

Leading up to the competition, they also had to complete a written business project known as the AGMARDT Market Innovation Project.

The final challenge was a three-minute speech outlining their vision for attracting extra people to horticulture to meet the government's goal of increasing qualified staff in the industry by 2025.

This is the first time most finalists have had to manage a project from beginning to end, requiring motivation and discipline along the way. Presenting their AGMARDT Market Innovation Project to a panel of judges was also new for them.

Malley took home a grand prize of $7,500 worth of travel and accommodation, the Primary ITO Career Development Award, as well as the Fruitfed Supplies Leadership Award. He also took first prize for the AGMARDT Market Innovation Project, with his traceability technology for kiwifruit.

Organisers said the aim of the competition was to nurture the interest and passion of the younger generations as well as showcase the industry.

"We want to encourage that passion from primary school all the way through to university and beyond, as it's an incredibly rewarding industry to be part of," says T&G executive general manager NZ, Andrew Keaney.

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