By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

Not since Exodus, the second book of the Bible, has it seemed like so many disasters were recorded by one people in such a short period of time.

In Exodus ten disasters, including hail, fire and plagues of locusts and frogs, are inflicted on Ancient Egypt by the God of Israel in order to force the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery.

This year in horticulture we can count the last summer of bushfires, an ongoing drought, the still unfolding global COVID-19 pandemic, and the detection of both Fall armyworm and Serpentine leafminer as our own collection of disasters.

While some of these events and issues have impacted just a few of us, very few have made it through 2020 completely unscathed.

For some, the cumulative impact has proven too great. More than a few talented growers have given growing a break or decided to turn their hand to something else. This has fed into an existing trend across agriculture toward further consolidation of farming, as costs and risks mount.

Here at Growcom we’re also going through a period of change.

We’ve been sad to see some seasoned staff move on, but glad to have been part of their professional journey and know in almost every case their skills and expertise are not lost to our industry.

In turn we’ve welcomed on board a number of exceptional new hires from a variety of backgrounds, keen to test their mettle in a peak industry body and deliver value directly to growers.

As an industry body, if you’ve not relevant through a crisis, you never will be. So while we’ve been stretched at times meeting the demands of the industry, our members and government, we’ve been glad for it.

The last year has confirmed the critical role industry groups play in bringing people together, providing clear and consistent advice in all directions, and escalating issues when required.

In horticulture through these tough times we’ve come together across regions and commodities more unified than before. This of course will serve as an essential well of goodwill to draw on through our recovery.       

Next week in this column we will review the year ahead for horticulture. And as a spoiler alert, it’s not all doom and gloom.