Bright future for young farmers in Hawke's Bay and Taihape

Published: 4 February, 2021

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January marked the start of a new training journey for 50 students in the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) programme, one that could set them up with a career for life. 

Rangatahi at a farm, standing around a quad bike listening to the trainer at their induction

Rangatahi from Taihape and Hawke's Bay completed a four day induction on 23 January 2021 as part of their Growing Future Farmers training.

Students from around the country kick-started their GFF studies with four days of basic training and induction activities, a mix of practical and theory work aimed at helping them transition smoothly into two years of on-the-job training.

The Taihape and Hawke’s Bay participants rounded off the cohort’s big start with an induction at Cabbage Tree Flat Station on 23 January. This saw 12 local students come together for vehicle training, health and safety, hauora (wellbeing) workshops and recreational activities at the Waimārama farm.

According to Statistics New Zealand, $12.66 billion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product comes from the agricultural industry. In the Hawke’s Bay alone, agriculture has been among the top three biggest contributors GDP locally for more than a decade.

This has created high demand for young farmers with core practical skills in the region and the initiative aims to address this need through a comprehensive training programme, which has received just under $900,000 of funding administered by the Provincial Development Unit (PDU).

The skills taught on the GFF programme are in high demand says GFF General Manager Cyn Smith.

“We have gross labour shortages in the sheep and beef industry and this initiative is going to help address that,” said Ms Smith.

“Support from the Provincial Development Unit has enabled us to bring our National Pilot Programme into action amid a challenging vocational agricultural training landscape.”

Graduates of the programme will be trained in areas such as stockmanship, sustainable production, financial literacy, cultural competence, health and nutrition, wellbeing and work-ready skills.

By the end of their two year training programme, students will graduate with National Certificates in Primary Industries and Agriculture, and GFF Essential Farm Skills qualifications. Graduates also leave the programme with two working dogs they will have raised and trained from pups.

GFF is working with students and farmers in seven areas: Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taihape, King Country, Wairarapa, Kurow and Winton.