Focus on family operations

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The potato has overtaken the tomato in New Zealand. Photo/File
The potato has overtaken the tomato in New Zealand. Photo/File

Farming in spotlight A New Zealand heritage of natural farm succession, challenged in the era of corporate ownership and international sale, will get some time in the spotlight in 2014 - the United Nations International Year of Family Farming.

The New Zealand launch took place at Parliament in November, with representatives from about 40 family farming organisations attending a day-long forum. The international launch was at UN headquarters in New York.

National Co-ordinating Committee for IYFF-2014 in New Zealand convener Brendan Hoare said the day was "very successful" in bringing together a diverse range of people, who worked together well to identify social, economic and environmental issues of greatest interest to family farmers.

"The majority of farmers in New Zealand are family farmers," he said.

Most people who consumed what the families produced had little knowledge and understanding of family farms and their contribution to society and the economy, Mr Hoare said.

Irish protest pricesIrish farmers have been protesting the slashing of fresh fruit and prices among large retailers to as little as 5c an item.

About 200 protested at one shopping centre in Dublin, pledging to buy up all the fresh produce for as little as 6c.

Farmers were calling for regulation to tackle the low-cost practices, saying large retailers were damaging small businesses as they competed to attract customers.

But at least three chains - SuperValu, Lidl and Aldi - said they were not passing the costs back to producers, who, they said, were being paid as normal.

Potato in, tomato outIn New Zealand, the protests may well come from tomato lovers saddened that the red delights are no longer our favourite vege. Horticulture New Zealand says the potato rules, for the first time in a decade.

In the fruit market, bananas remain the favourite, although there was little growth in the overall spend, up only $1 million in the last three years to $143 million worth of bananas in the year ended June 2013.

Beetle tackles whiteflyHundreds of ladybird beetles have been released in the Gisborne area to combat whitefly infestations in commercial and backyard citrus trees.

About 600 of the serangium maculigerum were taken from Kerikeri and released into a citrus orchard at Makaraka to prey on whiteflies, the Gisborne Herald reported.

Two other batches of 600 beetles are expected to be released on other properties by the end of next week.

First Fresh NZ technical adviser Dave McLellan said Hort Research entomologists identified the 2mm long ladybird's favourite food.

"They are voracious feeders," he said.

"They love eating the whitefly and its larvae."

The citrus whitefly was introduced to New Zealand from Australia about 14 years ago.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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