Herefordshire soft fruit producer Hargrove will lead the way in demonstrating labour-saving techniques to help the horticulture industry offset the shortage of seasonal workers.
The Ledbury-based grower has been announced as an AHDB Strategic SmartHort Centre and will host a series of workshops this year for other local horticultural businesses.
Consultancy Fedden USP will run training to drive business improvement, while sharing insight on practical management and methods of implementing ‘lean’ practices in horticulture.
According to AHDB, businesses attending the events should expect to see labour and productivity improvements of between 25 and 40 per cent.
Haygrove chairman Angus Davison said: “Berry growing is about labour, yield and price. Yield is good. Price is bad. Labour must be the focus. We therefore happily support this initiative by AHDB. We are keen to listen, share and learn.”
The producer will help demonstrate how labour efficiency tools and techniques can be used on a daily basis in any horticultural business, regardless of the crops it grows or the number of employees it has.
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.”
AHDB said local businesses attending the workshops can expect “a hands-on, practical learning experience” covering:
- Process mapping and waste identification
- Practical problem solving using a technique called Plan, Do, Check, Act
- How to encourage continuous improvement across the whole organisation
- Visual management boards and metrics to check improvements have worked
The first workshop will take place on 4 and 5 September 2019 at Haygrove in Ledbury. Click here find out more and to book your place.