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  • Author or Editor: Sandy Scarrow x
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The government-funded horticulture extension service, which provided a free service to New Zealand growers for nearly 50 years, was privatized in the late 1980s as part of major reforms to the primary production sector. That service had provided one-on-one on-farm visits, budget advice, provision of technical information, and facilitation of field days, workshops and discussion groups throughout the country. This government-funded service also provided policy advice, acted as an interface between industry and the research and development (R&D) sector, and responded to biosecurity incursions. A decade following privatization, the number of people involved in equivalent consultancy activities has almost halved with very little recruitment of new people into the profession. The emphasis is now much more towards providing advice on the overall management of an individual enterprise to ensure its financial viability, with less emphasis on technical transfer. Large horticultural businesses are increasingly employing specialists in-house who can provide technical solutions and advice on balance sheet management. Private consultancy companies now tend to work more at a local or regional level rather than at a national level and links with R&D providers have markedly weakened as research organisations are increasingly protecting intellectual property for their own commercial advantages and as information provision is now largely on a user-pays basis. In addition, biosecurity incursions over the past decade appear to have increased as a result of a weakened surveillance effort. Nonetheless, horticultural exports from New Zealand continue to grow at around 10% per annum and many sectors remain very competitive on world markets.

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