The second annual Cultivate Your Career event took place in Edgecumbe and Pukehina last week.
Almost 100 Year 11, 12 and 13 students as well interested teachers from Opotiki College, Tarawera High School, Whakatane High School and Trident High School toured orchard and post-harvest sectors of horticulture.
The tour was designed to debunk myths and prove horticulture is not only about manual labour and rather showcase the commercial, scientific and technical careers the industry has to offer.
Students went to visit Southern Cross Horticulture's large-scale home base in Pukehina to showcase the full spectrum of careers available in the industry, from orchard development and growing plants in the nursery, through to harvesting fruit and orchard management. Then they headed to EastPack Edgecumbe where they learned about the postharvest sector, including logistics and the supply chain.
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The Eastern BOP Cultivate Your Career event is run as a partnership between New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers , the BOP Young Fruitgrowers Upskilling Trust and the Eastern Bay of Plenty economic development agency Toi EDA.
"This year is special because it has a practical focus on kiwifruit following the cycle from nursery through to post-harvest production. There are also ambassadors from the industry who will accompany the students on the tour to answer their questions," says Renee Fritchley of NZKGI.
"Our values underpin everything that we do, and we are proud to be able to inspire our next generation of leaders by showcasing what our industry has to offer," Lee Du Preez of Southern Cross Horticulture says.
Horticulture is New Zealand's fourth largest primary industry with an export revenue increasing steadily each year to a projected $6.1 billion for 2019. Eighty per cent of kiwifruit are grown in the Bay of Plenty and, for the 2018/19 season, the Opotiki and Whakatane regions contributed $256 million. Kiwifruit production is forecast to increase significantly by 2030.
To achieve this growth the industry requires skilled talent to help drive horticulture's success further. The kiwifruit industry currently employs about 5500 permanent staff which is expected to increase to around 7000 by 2030.