The Australian government and industry are jointly funding the development of a strategic vision for the horticulture industry in Australia. “The horticulture industry has a $7 billion value at farm gate and is one of our largest agricultural industries, “ Mr McGauran said. “ It is also vitally important to rural economies with almost one in three agriculture employees working in horticulture.” “For the first time we are developing an industry plan for the whole of the horticulture industry that takes a realistic and detailed look at what is happening and adopts a cohesive approach to adding value in the future,” Mr McGauran said. “The new plan will provide guidance for the whole industry and involves all of the major players throughout the supply chain, from growing produce through to buyers and consumers.” Mr McGauran added that this plan is not a short-term response to recent difficul- ties facing the industry through drought, frosts, cyclones and loss of market access. “This is a vitally important strategic initiative as the industry is facing both substantial growth in production in some sectors and increased competi- tion from low cost labour countries. “The Australian industry has to plan to meet and overcome future challenges, both domestic and international.”
“We expect to see an even more professional and internationally competitive industry emerge, with the plan providing a strong foundation for the linked state and individual com- modity plans that will invest industry level funds in a commercial manner in areas that generate the greatest returns.” Minister McGauran congratulated the horticulture industry for its initiative and advised that the government has approved $900,000 which is to be matched by industry contributions. “I understand that the bulk of the industry funds have already been pledged with Coles, Woolworths and other supermarkets, wholesalers, cen- tral markets, managed investment schemes, grower levies and HAL corporate all contributing. “I have great confidence in HAL’s ability to manage this project to a successful conclusion. Previous pro- jects that HAL has managed on behalf of the Government in environmental and natural resource management have become a benchmark for others to follow. “In addition, Managing Director John Webster has an admirable record of success in delivering tangible benefits through this type of planning activity in other industries. His experience will be invaluable as the horticulture industry takes on this challenge,” Minister McGauran added.
John Webster, Horticulture Australia’s Managing Director said that detailed work on the plan is about to commence. “I expect that the plan will influence the industry over the next decades in fundamental ways by shaping factors that drive competition and competi- tiveness.” Mr Webster said. Areas for attention of the plan are: • preparedness for the increase in export focus, with market access and export marketing pivotal; • increased concentration upon identifying and meeting consumer needs at every level in the industry with complementary marketing activities; • the development of measures to raise quality, consistency and reliability throughout the industry; • arrangements between differing elements of the supply chain, encouraging greater cohesion in areas where break downs are reducing value; • raising the efficiency and sustain- ability of participants throughout the industry; • the investment and direction of R&D and marketing resources. “Horticulture is an amazingly proactive and innovative industry”, Mr Webster added “The industry will embrace the opportunities and challenges that are identified from this plan.
The Minister has recently appointed a 26 person Industry Leadership Group to steer the development of the project to develop the HISP. Julie Haslett, ABA CEO has been invited to participate as a member of this group.