Initially, I will be looking forward with this update, to the upcoming NGIA Board meeting on 13 and 14 November. It is an extremely important meeting as we will be having a joint session of the NGIA Board, State Presidents and CEOs and representatives of the Structural Change Advisory Committee (SCAC) to discuss and assess the SCAC report and outline the next steps in the NGI structure review process.
The Board meeting will also be the final Board meeting (for this stint) of three Directors who will complete the third of their two year terms. Mike Mehigan, Simon Smith and Colin Groom will be completing six year “terms”, the maximum under the Constitution for any one period. I would like to thank Mike, Simon and Colin for their guidance and support over the last two and a half years. They have a wealth of knowledge and rich background in the industry and their departure will leave a gap. However, this also creates an opportunity for the continuing and new Directors to guide and lead the industry through this next period of operation.
If you have the opportunity to catch up with Mike, Simon and Colin in person or on the phone, I would encourage you to thank them for their contribution and achievements through their commitment to the NGIA Board and the industry.
The Board will cover the usual agenda items at the meeting around governance, finance, the NGIA Strategy, the Nursery Production Farm Management System (Nursery Production FMS) and interactions with Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) in the meeting. The NGIA Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be conducted during the afternoon of 14 November following the Board meeting and I request that you complete your proxy form and return to NGIA if you cannot attend the AGM.
October has been another busy month with a significant amount of activities and meetings, including:
1. University of Sydney Students – I convened and joined a “study tour” of University of Sydney Agriculture students who are doing a horticulture subject. We went to Gary Eyles’ nursery and Brent Tallis showed the students around Overland Nursery. This provided a good overview of two different nurseries – one supplying retail garden centres and one supplying production horticulture – and hopefully will encourage them to progress to a career in horticulture and the nursery industry.
2. Nursery Industry Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) meeting – The SIAP met during October to assess the research and development (R&D) and marketing nursery levy investment projects and program being managed by Hort Innovation. While a number of new R&D projects were supported to be progressed, there is still a lack of new and “left field” concepts being submitted for assessment. As an industry we need to find, assess and progress innovative ideas to improve the operations of nursery businesses. There is budget available for the R&D investments.
The SIAP also discussed the 202020 Vision marketing program. The discussions included the Plant Life Balance (PLB) consumer focussed campaign. The campaign launched officially on 30 October and will hopefully lead to an increases in demand and sales of greenlife products. Please advise any comments or observations on the success of the program from your point of view so we can continue to refine and improve the approach to consumer marketing.
3. Nursery Production FMS Auditor’s workshop – A workshop of all the FMS auditors was conducted during October. The aim of the workshop was to update the auditors on key aspects of the FMS programs, and to outline the expectations for their auditing, to ensure they are conducted consistently across the country. Please visit www.nurseryproductionfms.com.au if you would like more information on the programs and are interested in being an accredited nursery business.
4. Hort Innovation – I had a number of meetings with Hort Innovation Directors and Staff to discuss a number of issues, in particular the operation of the SIAP, to improve the processes for the investment of the nursery R&D and marketing levy.
5. Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Conference – I attended the AILA “Three Cities” Conference in Sydney which had a focus on the “three” cities of Sydney. There was significant discussion on the design of new developments and the importance of plants in those developments. It provided me with the opportunity to meet the new CEO of AILA and for us to discuss how NGIA and AILA can engage to benefit the activities and operations of our respective members.
6. Voice of Horticulture (VoH) – Board, Member and the Annual General meetings of VoH were conducted in October. I was reelected as a Director on VoH Board to ensure the nursery industry is represented across all of Horticulture and to raise our profile through the various advocacy activities of VoH.
As mentioned in my September message, Mike Mehigan and I were about to attend the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) annual congress in Taipei. The Congress covered a range of international activities of the AIPH members including updates on Green Cities, the Environment and Plant Health, Intellectual Property, Marketing and Exhibitions. There was also a session on how to organise a successful short term horticultural exhibition.
A significant outcome from the Congress is that the next AIPH meeting will be conducted in Melbourne during MIFGS. This will be the opportunity to show case Australian horticulture and the nursery industry to the international members of AIPH. Please advise if you would like to attend the proposed “Green Cities” session during the meeting and if you would like to support the AIPH meeting.
As usual, please contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions, comments or concerns on the operation of NGIA and this edition of the NNN email.