Open communication between industry groups and government policy makers to ensure access to new markets has been highlighted as a top priority in 2019 by the Horticulture Coalition of SA’s president Angelo Demasi.
Mr Demasi said after a challenging year for SA’s producers, in particular apple, cherry and strawberry growers, it was crucial for industry bodies to lead the way and, offer support and market certainty.
“Helping our growers effectively through the tampering sagas was a big achievement for the year but industry also had a good focus on opening up access to the export market – we need to continue that,” he said.
“The coalition took the lead role to ensure our growers were not too effected by the tampering situation and help bring back consumers confidence into the market place too.”
Mr Demasi said water expansion plans that were announced for Boliver and the northern Adelaide Plains this year were also a big step forward for growers to increase vegetable production.
But he said the challenge continued to be agreeing on fair water pricing for growers accessing the water.
“Negotiations are still continuing to get water pricing in spec for our growers and this will continue until it is economically viable for growers to use.”
Mr Demasi said plans for increased production within SA also posed its challenges too.
“It is OK to have larger farms and expansion but we need to find new markets. We do not have a large enough population to meet the high need of consumption,” he said.
“So we need to increase export markets so the domestic market is not flooded and we can stablise the price market.”
Looking ahead Mr Demasi said industry looked forward to resolving he 457 visa system issues and rebuild the shortage of skilled horticulture workers in regional areas.
“Industry will try to work with federal policy makers in the near future to work through the challenges,” he said.
Despite the challenges faced by the sector, Mr Demasi said the “feeling among citrus and stone fruit growers was positive.”
“Citrus have had a good season.”