He told an audience at the Kent college last week that while applications have already been received, no candidates have so far proved suitable, adding: "We expect to have a minimum of 10 apprentices on the three-year scheme at any one time."
Agrovista and Norman Collett were named as main sponsors for the scheme, while soft-fruit grower and supplier S&A Produce and top and stone fruit grower and packer AC Hulme & Sons will serve as employers.
Agrovista head of specialist divisions Charles Coslett said: "We want to give something back and now is the right time," adding that it is of a piece with the consultancy and services company's change of focus from open-field crops to fruit."
Nigel Jenner, technical director at top-fruit marketer Norman Collett, added: "We need the college to secure labour for us going forward. There are massive opportunities available there but no one to take them."
Explaining S&A's involvement, operations director David Suggett said: "There is no one coming up from the bottom. We welcome the opportunity to work with the college to address that."
AC Hulme partner Tom Hulme added: "The apprenticeship programme at the college is a perfect fit for us, but we are looking for high-calibre individuals."