NZ Apples & Pears – International Horticulture Immersion Programs (IHIPs)

This story was showcased in our 2019/20 Annual Report

NZ Apples and Pears Inc. has received generous funding from AgMARDT to run the first International Horticulture Immersion Programs (IHIPs) – one tailored to undergraduates and the other for executives. The programs are a partnership between Professor Hamish Gow from Massey Business School, and NZAPI.

Both programs visited The Netherlands and Belgium with the undergraduates also visiting South Korea while the executives attended Berlin Fruit Logistica. During each program, participants followed and unpacked the complete value chains for various New Zealand and international horticultural products. As part of this, they were exposed to all of the steps along the value chain from world-leading genetics and plant breeding, through production, post-harvest, distribution, and logistics, export and import, wholesale, retailing and international consumers.

The difference between the IHIP programs and other comparable study tours is the critical reflection process that Prof Gow runs. Participants are challenged to analyse, evaluate and debate their observations, synthesize insights, and develop and share their recommendations to the New Zealand horticultural industry.

These programs had an immense impact on both groups of participants. For the undergraduates, a significant improvement in both technical horticulture skills across the value-chain as well as personal leadership qualities were measured through surveys. This improvement can be seen still – one-year post-program.

For the executives, building networks, seeing world-leading innovation, and being challenged to look outside of their day-to-day operations at wider issues proved invaluable “All the participants had substantial personal growth as they’ve gone through the program. Walking along the [horticultural] value chain has allowed them to gain numerous insights that can be applied and integrated to strengthen the New Zealand system,” said Gow.

Participants from both groups noted the importance of bold collaborations such as IHIP moving forward. “The opportunity for NZ is to build its intent around “collaboration” and relationships from a whole of world perspective. NZ can only feed 30 million people – there’s more than enough in this for everyone! Be generous, build trusted relationships, collaborate, innovate!” noted Exec IHIP participant Liam O’Sullivan.

COVID-19 has cancelled the 2020 student IHIP, however, a domestic version is planned for November. Also, in the pipeline is a Teacher’s HIP designed to help science, and business teachers integrate horticulture into their classrooms.

In the future, the HIP programs will be integrated into formal qualifications for emerging leaders across the horticulture industry. Without AGMARDT’s continued support these programs would not be possible.