Dixon on... What we need for a better 2010

Send 2009 packing. Pretty consistently, it has been marred with credit shortages and good businesses going to the wall.

Vegetable and fruit growers have suffered, spring sowing was well down, good companies failed and now bills are being left unpaid.

As consumers' affluence disappeared, with it went organic production. The rigidity of supermarket power lacking any shred of recognition of shared responsibility with British growers stands as a hallmark of the year.

Contraction in the number of producers will most likely continue into 2010. Some in the ornamentals sector have enjoyed a good year, while others suffered. Across the board, depressed consumers cut the quality of their diet but still looked for one or two of life's pleasures. However, selling was not easy.

Money still flowed for environmental greening. Much of this was previously committed tax-spend, which is likely to dry up in 2010 as cuts bite into local and national public budgets. Student numbers taking college courses for basic further education were up by as much as 20 per cent in places. That was probably an alternative to life on the dole. Higher education for horticulture was inextricably caught up by arguments on fees, caps to student numbers and the continuing antagonism in student attitudes towards science-led courses.

So where to in 2010? A smaller fruit and vegetable industry with possibly lost research capacity, little demand for landscaping and disillusioned students with no employment. Yet horticulture's products meet every criterion for increasing consumers' physical and mental health and welfare.

There ought to be good cheer in 2010 but only if there is sufficient unity of purpose to create it. A much-needed lead from The Horticultural Development Company promoting horticulture's value for society would be warmly welcomed. The organisation is the sole remaining over-arching body.

Professor Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of GreenGene International


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Raised levels of investment in horticulture education and increased student take-up is welcome news for the industry, says Rachel Anderson.

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

This spring, many top-fruit growers in the UK and across Europe were dismayed to discover that swathes of their orchards had been hit by frost.

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

Upcoming reforms to water abstraction licensing will for the first time cap the amount of water that fruit growers can take for trickle irrigation.