Cambridgeshire plant propagator, Volmary, has been picked to present its trial into reducing labour requirements at AHDB’s labour workshop in July.
First announced in May, the AHDB Strategic SmartHort Centre, will host a series of workshops around Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire at horticultural businesses in a bid to raise productivity by 25 – 40 per cent.
British growers have been warning of a labour shortage crisis as economic changes and the instability of Brexit hamper recruiters attempts to attract European seasonal workers.
Volmary will demonstrate how labour efficiency tools and techniques can be used on a daily basis in any horticultural crops, irrespective of the crops they grow or number of employees.
Francis Mizuro, operations manager of Volmary said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen as one of the first Smarthort Centres. We’re very excited to bring the investigative-trial work to our site and to be a key part of the development of systems and technologies that will help both the industry as a whole and our own business.
“We feel by investing some of our time and resources to this programme, we will help progress an industry that has lacked investment, focus and people.”
With the first workshop slated for 23 and 24 July, businesses attending will cover process mapping and waste identification, practical problem solving, encouraging continuous improvement across the whole organisation and visual management boards and metrics.
Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, chair of AHDB Horticulture, said: “Labour can account for up to 70 per cent of production costs for some horticulture businesses. In recent years, some areas have seen a 30 per cent shortfall in seasonal workers, putting huge strains on businesses and leading to increased wage costs to attract and retain the best workers.
“The Strategic SmartHort Centres are one of the ways we’re putting practical advice and information out to growers to help them deal with this significant challenge and we hope many businesses in the area make the most of this opportunity.”