The solidarity and strength of the Australian horticulture industry was demonstrated by the recent launch of the Voice of Horticulture, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mango Industry, Robert Gray.
“Voice of Horticulture represents all horticultural growers and businesses across fruit, nuts, turf, nursery plants and cut flowers, who work every day to feed and sustain us,” says Tania Chapman, Chair, Voice of Horticulture. “These commodities are a crucial part of a healthy diet and lifestyle and we expect to see increasing demand for them.”
Horticulture is the biggest employer of all the agricultural industries in Australia – employing a third of all agricultural workers – and is the third biggest by value ($10 billion at the farm gate and over $50 billion at retail). In 2013/14 the value of horticulture exports achieved a record high of $1.5 billion.
“There is a huge potential to increase our horticultural exports even further,” says John Dollisson, Director, Voice of Horticulture. “If we have more of our fresh produce exported we start to see an improvement in the balance of trade – great news for the economy, whilst at the same time growing the horticulture sector in Australia.
“But our growers need support to realise this potential. Voice of Horticulture will work with government and politicians to improve domestic production and export market access for horticultural products; ensure Free Trade Agreements benefit growers; and work on issues that unite us like labelling, biosecurity and chemical use.”
One of the driving forces to establish Voice of Horticulture was the formation of the new research and development corporation for horticulture – Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd (HIA). HIA is a grower-owned entity and needs a strong industry voice to guide it.
“It is a critical time to ensure growers have a direct link to HIA, politicians and policy makers to ensure their issues are heard and the potential of their industry realised,” says Tania.
The Voice will also make it easier for these key stakeholders to communicate with growers, rather than meet with numerous grower groups individually, because there are many common issues and opportunities across the sector.
While growers will be invited to become members of HIA, HIA does not have an advocacy role, and will not represent the political interests of Australia’s 30,000 horticultural producers – the backbone of Australia’s rural and regional communities. This will be the role of the Voice of Horticulture.
“We are such a diverse sector across dozens of commodities that are comprised of primarily small- to medium-sized businesses – the driving force of our economy,” says Tania.
“Coming together under the Voice of Horticulture allows growers to more readily be heard and represented to help government and policy makers better understand our issues and interests to guide their decisions.
“One point of contact – Voice of Horticulture – will build much stronger relationships.”
Follow news about Voice of Horticulture on Twitter via #voiceofhort
For more information, visit: www.voiceofhorticulture.org.au .