Looking out for each other

Tony’s Take on avos
with Tony Bradley
Aongatete Avocados Ltd

 It’s tough times at present.

We’re seeing increased costs on most fronts and combined with lower returns it is tough times out there in the avocado business world.

Interestingly, the other day I read some articles about pastoral care within our horticulture industry.

It raised some questions for me.

What I observed is that some sectors are doing this well while others are well behind.

It’s not only about the care and welfare of our workers, staff and family but it’s also about our own welfare, good health and state of mind.

It’s about looking out for our peers and understanding we may have different pressures, different issues and different priorities.

It also includes our own welfare.

Is our industry considering this?

Are they active in the welfare and pastoral care of those in our industry - its members - or are they reliant on supporting services and pan-alliances?

Is there a greater opportunity to work together with other industries and establish better support systems?

I come at this topic as we in the avocado industry are having one of worst financial years since about 2012.

If you were in the industry then, it was similar uneconomic returns that we experienced.

I well-remember the challenges we faced.

Some channel players had to pack up and leave the industry.

It gave rise to the debate of our supply to exporters and a need to consolidate.

I’m in no way suggesting that solution but it does raise the age-old debate about where all the money is going.

I also feel we will be seeing a significant lift in the cost of growing.

Inflation this year is still being talked up. Fuel, labour - if you can get it, and fertiliser costs are all well up. I ordered some steel and it has risen 57 per cent in the last year.

Can we sustain these prices within the current operating model?

What it may make us do is challenge how we are doing the work.

For example, the industry body is working on nutrient budgeting for a sustainable position.

This will be a very effective tool for us as growers and enable us to better target our nutrient budgets and costs.

Similar, is the harvesting cost which is one of the most expensive costs on the orchard.

Maybe it too needs some hard challenging around how and when we do this.

Snap picking can increase picking speed by 30 per cent making the cost to pick a tray of fruit less when compared to clipped fruit.

The downside is the increase in rots and downgraded fruit.

At $10 per tray return that may not be a lot of dollars lost but it might save money on picking so it’s worth a thought!

So back to my original observation. Pastoral care is a topic that may affect all of us.

Take time to check on your neighbours, consider that others may have wider issues and complexities that add work or simplify their lives.

But importantly give your grower colleagues the benefit of a bit of your interest in their welfare.

It might be over a cuppa, a beer, or even just a chat over the fence.

And remember a chat with others sometimes helps ourselves too.


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