The Bay of Plenty’s best growers will go head to head in the Bay of Plenty Young Fruitgrower competition next week.
The champion will progress to the Young Grower of the Year national final, to be held in Hawke’s Bay in August.
There, they will join the winners of the Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, and Central Otago regionals, as well as a Young Vegetable Grower, to vie for the national title of Young Grower 2018.
This year’s Bay of Plenty entrants are:
- Aaron Wright, Regional Manager, EastPack
- Danni van der Heijden, Avocado Services, Trevelyan’s Pack & Cool
- Hamish McKain, Avocado Manager/Production Manager, DMS
- Levi Smith, Assistant Production Manager, Trinity Lands Ltd.
- Rishi Preet Singh, Orchard Manager, Seeka Ltd.
- Rochelle Kerkmeester, Quality Controller, Apata Group Ltd.
The competition will see contestants demonstrating their knowledge and skills around topics vital to the management of a successful orchard, including tractor proficiency, orchard profitability, and plant nutrition. The winner will be decided at a gala awards dinner the following week, where they will speak to an audience of approximately 400 people from throughout the industry about the future disruptors to horticulture
Prizes include sponsorship to attend the annual Horticulture New Zealand Conference, a media and presentation development course, and an all-expenses paid trip to compete for the national 2018 Young Grower of the Year title in August as well as cash prizes.
The BOP competition is organised by the Bay of Plenty Young Fruitgrower Upskilling Committee with support from NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc. Committee chair Katy McGinity says one of the industry’s biggest challenges is attracting young talent to a career in horticulture.
“We are a growth industry and competitions of this type work to illustrate not only the varied career opportunities throughout the industry but also the collaborative nature of our industry.”
The annual competition has become a mainstay of the region’s horticultural industry, according to NZKGI CEO Nikki Johnson.
"The kiwifruit industry is on an exciting growth trajectory and there are fantastic opportunities for young people to have rewarding professional careers in the industry. The BOP Young Fruitgrower Competition supports the development and growth of skilled personnel in the kiwifruit industry by showcasing the industry’s talented future leaders.”
Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman agrees about the importance of holding these competitions.
"This competition, and similar competitions held around the country, showcase the amazing talent we have working in our horticulture industry. Young Grower demonstrates not only the career opportunities in horticulture, but also the potential rewards of these roles, and the skills required to achieve them.
"Horticulture is in a growth phase, with amazing career opportunities for everyone working in the industry, and for those considering joining our vibrant industry. This growth brings opportunities for everyone, and particularly for new entrants to accelerate up their career path; these people are the future of the industry."
The Bay of Plenty Young Fruitgrower competition will be held on Saturday, February 10 at the Te Puke A&P Show. The awards dinner will follow on Thursday, February 15, at ASB Arena, Stadium Lounge
A small number of tickets are still available. For more information on the competition and tickets, visit www.bopyoungfruitgrower.co.nz