The 29th International Horticultural Congress | Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes | 17-22 August 2014
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Horticulture

Highlights of Australasian horticulture

The congress is being hosted by the Australian Society of Horticultural Science, the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science.

  • Scientific contribution of more than AUD$10.6 billion to the GDP of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region.
  • Impact on global export markets for selected products such as kiwifruit, apples, wine, ginger and macadamias.
  • Substantial investment in research, development and marketing by growers and horticultural industry groups.
  • Development of world-class cultivars in apples, grapes, blueberries and kiwifruit.
  • Improved water use efficiency through partial root zone drying technology.
  • Increased export market access through non-chemical disinfestations protocols.
  • Advanced sustainable production systems through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Fruit Production (IFP).
  • World-class industry best practice through computerised decision support systems.
  • Innovative application of DNA technologies to horticultural management.
  • Extensive climatic and horticultural diversity.
  • Contributions to the quality of life and lifestyle by providing educational, environmental, economic, social and health benefit

Horticulture in Australasia has a powerful export focus, which, by necessity, draws on specialist skills such as novel crop development, post-harvest storage and transport, supply chain modelling, marketing, and low-chemical pest and disease control. In addition, proximity to Asia and increasing dependence on Asian markets has led to continuing innovation as growers switch to tropical fruit or Asian vegetable production. The unique Australasian flora provides new species to world markets hungry for novelty. The region has a sizeable investment in research on sustainable production systems. Our products have long been regarded as ‘clean and green’; well before the growing emphasis on food safety and nutritional composition.

Horticulture in Australia

Hortstats show that horticulture is one of the fastest growing industries under agriculture and is the third largest agricultural sector in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecasts the Gross Value of Production (GVP) of the sector to be $AUD9.0 billion in 2010-11, up from $AUD 6.5 billion in 2004-05. The growth of the industry has been consistent over the past 10 years with the GVP growing 6.6% and production 1.2% per annum.

Over the past six years, the horticulture sector has employed an average of 108,000 people annually, 1.1% of national employment and the equivalent of 25% of agricultural employment. The horticultural industry is thus a major employer with 1 in 4 agricultural employees in horticulture throughout Australia. Furthermore, two thirds of horticulture’s value is generated in regional Australia, where 71,600 of the sectors 108,000 workers are employed. The horticulture sector is the second largest sector within Australian agriculture, being slightly less than the grains industry, but well above the combined average contributions of the wool and dairy industries.

Australian horticulture is diverse incorporating 140 commodities; including vegetables, fruits, nuts, table and wine grapes, nursery plants, turf, cut flowers and extractive crops. The major growing areas for edible horticulture include the Goulburn Valley of Victoria; the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area of New South Wales; the Sunraysia district of Victoria/NSW; the Riverland region of South Australia; northern Tasmania; southwest Western Australia and the coastal strip of both northern New South Wales and Queensland. Nursery and turf grass production generally occurs within or close to the capital cities and regional centres. Banana, pineapple, mandarin, avocado, mango and fresh tomato production is concentrated in Queensland; stone fruit and oranges in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia; processing potatoes in Tasmania; fresh pears, canning fruit and processing tomatoes in Victoria; and apples and fresh vegetables in all states.

Australian horticulture also incorporates the products and services associated with the lifestyle horticulture industry such as the management of parks and gardens, landscape design, construction and contracting, arboriculture, sports turf management, golf courses, racetrack, nursery production, public and private gardens, horticultural therapy and other public horticulture/ natural and green space assets which contribute an estimated AUD$4.7 billion to Australia's GDP.

Horticulture in New Zealand

The horticulture sector in New Zealand has grown steadily over the past 40 years with exports now exceeding $NZ3.3 billion. In addition, the local market sector for fruit, vegetables and wine is estimated to have a value in excess of $NZ2.4 billion. This does not include the very large ornamental plant, garden and amenity sectors.

New Zealand horticulture is diverse and includes temperate and sub-tropical fruit and vegetables (both fresh and processed), wine grapes, flowers and foliage, seeds and bulbs. The largest single sector is wine ($NZ1.04 billion exports), followed by kiwifruit ($NZ1.00 billion) while exports of avocado, blueberry and onion continue to increase. Horticultural machinery, primarily for cleaning, sorting and grading fresh and dried fruit and vegetables, to the value of $NZ51.5 million was exported in 2010.

The most important markets for New Zealand horticultural exports are Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, USA, the European Union, Taiwan and China. However, fresh and processed products were sent to 117 different countries in 2010 and in 25 of those countries exceeded $10 million in value. Exports to Australia and the USA have shown the greatest growth over the past decade.

New Zealand horticulture is world renowned for its ability to innovate. The role of New Zealand in the history of the commercialisation of kiwifruit is very well known and the release of ZESPRI GOLD has further enhanced that reputation. The apple cultivars Gala, Braeburn and Jazz have equally been very significant globally. The development of cool-season wines has been strong as has the development of new berryfruit cultivars. New Zealand has also been very effective at introducing new Integrated Pest Management protocols.

Horticultural crops are grown in all regions in the country but kiwifruit is dominated by production in the Bay of Plenty, wine production by Marlborough, apple production by Hawke’s Bay and vegetables by Canterbury. Protected crops, primarily tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers and nursery crops are grown in the Auckland regions.