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Belinda

Belinda Hazell

Year of Award: 2018 Award State: Tasmania Agriculture > Horticulture
The Hort Innovation Australia Churchill Fellowship to investigate the use of horticultural QA standards to stay ahead of social license demands - New Zealand, UK, Ireland, Netherlands
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Conclusion and Recommendations:

The Australian horticultural sector is in a prime position to meet the escalating world demand for sustainably grown, safe, quality plant-based food.  With resources under pressure, Australian horticulture needs to increase its agroecological approach to production for food security and protection of natural resources for future generations.  

Today’s grower cares.  They are working smarter to produce more with less.  Their QA systems are delivering direct and/or indirect benefits for growers who are not afraid to use them to deliver measurable outcomes.     However, they need to actively promote the #howandwhywefarm message to garner community and consumer support for their activities and build their ‘bank of goodwill’.  Best practices should be highlighted and include all players in the supply chain.  PIBs can also benefit from industry reporting dashboards that show measurable and meaningful outcomes from on-farm activities.  

Regardless of this however, it is imperative that governments and supply chain influencers need to focus on long term food security by ensuring the vitality of the fresh food supply chain.  This can be achieved through a long-term sustainability focus with clear, strong policy objectives and industry mechanisms aimed at delivering a true-cost food system.   

It is recommended that:

  • Development of a reporting dashboard using QA system data to monitor, measure and report sustainability initiatives over time.  This can be achieved through a collaborative project with industry and an on-farm scheme owner such as Freshcare.
  • Standard owners to consider initiatives to reduce the time required by growers to meet compliance requirements (i.e. remote auditing / online reporting). 
  • Supply chain influencers (such as PIBs, retailers) to lobby government on a long-term food security strategy that includes a true-cost model for grower returns.
  • Supply chain influencers (such as PIBs, retailers, community groups and government) to promote how growers are using their QA systems to benefit community and consumers through supply of safe, sustainable, healthy and nutritious food.  
  • Increase funding for research, development and extension initiatives that focus on an agroecological approach for growers to adopt.  This will invest in our food future and protect natural resources for future generations.  This could be achieved through Hort Innovation funding.  
  • Allocation of funds be made for growers to be trained on developing communication plans and community relations that build stakeholder engagement and assist in the #howandwhywefarm message.  This could be achieved through Hort Innovation funding. 

The 2019 Churchill Fellowship enabled me to gain an international overview of the many varied critical factors facing growers in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands.  The significant role of visionary governments recognising the need to work with all supply chain stakeholders (from growers through to retailers, consumers and communities) was highlighted again and again.  That is not to say that individual governments are solely responsible for change – they are not.  They do, however, play a vital role to facilitate urgent change that sustains the sector and safeguards future food security.    

I found that the problems facing the horticultural sector are progressively more complex due to social, political and environmental influences and changes.   Growers can no longer automatically expect that society will support their practices and their products. Conversations build connections and common ground.  As custodians of the lands they farm, growers have an ethical responsibility to gain acceptance of their efforts that build sustainability.    Further that the imperative of change is now, and survival means actively meeting it head-on being bold and proactive as possible.   By informing, enlightening and educating the community, it leads to a values-based climate of acceptance, understanding and support.  

Finally, I have also come to understand that in the countries the Fellowship enabled me to visit, that these goals are readily adaptable and achievable in Australia as my examples have indicated.   It will take the strong and visionary leadership of the individual as well as combined bodies to achieve this. 


Keywords: Agroecology, Agroecological, grower, #howandwhywefarm, Quality Assurance (QA), reverse sensitivity, social license, sustainable agriculture, sustainability, true-cost

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