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VegetablesWA President’s ReportBY DAN KUZMICICH PRESIDENT, VEGETABLESWAHello once again to my fellow growers and industry members.It has been an unusually wet start to the season in the Gascoyne region.With around 397mm of rain falling, it certainly brings some challenges to growers and their properties.While rain is always welcome, it has been pretty constant over the first four months of 2021.While it is a lot greener, it is mostly weeds, which host insect pests like thrip, aphids and white fly, which have been quite rampant.I haven’t seen them like this for quite a while in Carnarvon.Anyway, crops are mostly planted and thriving and harvest season is almost upon us.In early April, I took a road trip down to Donnybrook for a couple of days and caught up with a good grower mate of mine, James Wringe, for a coffee.James is a tomato producer in Kirrup.Our conversation led to the labour shortage issue in the area and he indicated that this was the worst season he has had on record.Due to the lack of workers in the area, he was not able to pick all his fruit and most had to remain on the vine, which was quite a challenge on top of the usual things that we deal with.Now, James is a pretty cool and collected guy, but it was really disappointing to see a fellow grower doing it tough — his face told the story.If you, like James, are having concerns with labour in your business, make sure you give vegetablesWA a call.We may be able to assist you with some avenues to source workers, especially as this issue will be ongoing until we can manage the global pandemic.As I am writing this report, I have been advised that DPIRD have announced that Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) has been eradicated again in Western Australia (WA) — which is excellent news.We congratulate DPIRD and the State Government for their tireless work and investment in protecting our market access and mitigating the costs to horticultural industries with this result.Qfly is a pest that would cause a real headache and inflict huge financial loss to many if it was established in WA. Well done DPIRD and thank you!Goodbye Maureen DobraI would like to take this opportunity to greatly thank a special person that has made a monumental difference to our vegetables industry, Maureen Dobra.Maureen’s perseverance and commitment of service over 16 years is unsurpassed, serving on both Committees of vegetablesWA and the Agricultural Produce Commission’s (APC), Vegetable Producers Committee (VPC).Maureen and Barry Dobra own and operate Loose Leaf Lettuce, situated in Gingin, and have more than 40 years’ experience in growing and running a hugely successful business.How Maureen has found time to take on the responsibility of her role on the vegetablesWA Committee of Management, becoming a regional representative in 2005, then Vice Chair for two years, and finally Chairperson in 2008 until September 18, 2015, is quite incredible.Maureen wasn’t finished there, she stayed on the Committee of Management for one more year after she had handed the role to me!I must say that Maureen was a fantastic Chairperson. I was very grateful for her years of experience and insight. I can tell you firsthand, it is a challenging position!Maureen was also heavily involved with the VPC, taking the Chairperson position back in February 2006.Maureen certainly kept herself very busy, as you can imagine, and at the beginning of this year she decided to step down and take a rest. I think she has certainly left a huge legacy for the industry, and I can safely say Maureen has done her part and left it in a better place through all her efforts.The Committee of Management and staff of vegetablesWA, as well as our grower members, greatly appreciate and respect Maureen for all she achieved.Maureen, we wish you and your family all the best for the future and thank you for all your dedication and hard work. You will be sadly missed but you are well overdue for a break in service and some more time to enjoy the fruits of your labour over the years.Moving forward, vegetablesWA is currently looking to update its Strategic Plan for future planning purposes. The most important part of this process will be engagement with as many growers and industry stakeholders as possible, in an open, consultative manner.So, in the coming weeks, vegetablesWA will be sending out a survey, to better understand your insights, and we encourage you all to be involved. From your feedback, we will be better placed to improve our services to you, our members, and to support a viable and profitable vegetable industry for many years to come.Keep an eye out for the email newsletter sent from our Communications and Policy Officer Amber, and check your emails for more information. Once again, I can’t stress how critical it is for you to get involved.On finishing this report, I would like to again reiterate that labour is the major issue for our industry moving forward.It is heartening to see that growers have been collaborating to find short-term solutions so far this year.If there are any of our members that are concerned and need some guidance with the Pacific Labor Scheme and the Seasonal Worker Programme, please contact the new Labour Scheme Facilitator assisting the horticulture sector, Kit Sainsbury (0477 477 044). Kit will tell you everything you need to know about these programs and guide you through the process, outlining your best options.Finally, to all our members in the Perth metro area, Gingin and the South West, with your harvest season ending, I hope that it was as successful as it could be and despite the challenges you have faced, I wish you all the best.To all our members situated in the north, Dongara, Geraldton and the Gascoyne region in turn, I wish you every success with your upcoming harvest season.Stay well, stay safe.MORE INFORMATIONContact Dan Kuzmicich on 0408 910 761 or email@example.com