Thursday, 14 September 2023 13:55

Strategic plan for spud growers

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
PNZ chief executive Kate Trufitt wants a new strategic plan for the country’s 174 potato growers. PNZ chief executive Kate Trufitt wants a new strategic plan for the country’s 174 potato growers.

New Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Kate Trufitt wants a new strategic plan for the country’s 174 spud growers.

Trufitt, who started in her new role six weeks ago, says growers will help PNZ management and board draw up the new plan.

“To ensure our growers and members are part of this process I am spending time visiting them over the next six months,” Trufitt told Rural News.

“The sector has its challenges and it is up to us at PNZ to listen to our stakeholders and develop an enduring plan to ensure longevity and growth for the sector.”

Trufitt, who has held many roles in the horticulture sector, is keen to take PNZ back to the grower level.

“We have a grower base of around 174, so it’s not a large grower base and should be fairly simple for my team, and the board, to get around to the growers and understand what they need from PNZ and also envisage where the industry is going.”

Trufitt also points out that some growers are fourth generation farmers with a lot of experience growing potatoes. She says she recently met one of the larger potato growing families and was impressed with their knowledge.

“They had all these generations around the table, I was impressed with their wide-ranging knowledge,” Trufitt adds. “They were very welcoming and also open about issues they face and how PNZ can assist them.”

Trufitt, who has over 20 years of experience working in the horticulture sector, believes attracting more people into the hort sector should be a priority.

“There are so many great jobs out there, not just around growing. We must showcase these roles so that the hort sector becomes attractive to young people.”

Trufitt worked in Gisborne for 15 years for a nursery, a processing company and postharvest. She also spent time working in markets – both local and overseas and in compliance and food safety space.

She believes her wideranging knowledge is a perfect balance of experience to take the helm of PNZ.

“I love to work for a sector that is passionate about what it does and has a genuine valuebased story,” Trufitt told Rural News. “I am delighted to have been chosen to represent the growers and members of Potato NZ, it is a great opportunity to use my 20-plus years of experience in the horticultural industry.”

She says potatoes are the backbone of our diets, and have fantastic nutrients that other carbohydrates don’t have.

“They are also great value for money!”

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