|Author: ||R.J. Wood|
Over the last thirty years, onion production area has increased from 1000 ha to over 4500 ha this season.
The present onion industry in NZ has evolved in relative geographic isolation and with a small domestic base for consumption.
With only 3.7 million people, and annual consumption of about 30 000 tonnes pa, (or 8.3 kg/head) total production is in fact 6 times that amount, with 83 % of the crop exported, (Figure 1). From that position the onion industry is obviously keenly interested in the demands of the world onion trade, and because of the physical isolation has needed to adapt technology and supply systems to service the distant markets.
The technology which has been the key to success in expanding onion production into exports includes efficient production, a longkeeping variety, and cost effective shipping methods.
For New Zealand the needs of the world market have been a moving target in some ways, and will probably continue to change with consumer demand, and as opportunities arise in other markets around the world where requirements are different.
Some factors affecting technology uptake in New Zealand are shared by other Southern Hemisphere onion growing regions (Tasmania).
Technology used in the past, has probably originated from 3 distinct sources:
- firstly from traditional research such as Government Institutes where new information or techniques have originated in NZ, or been adapted from overseas,
- secondly there have been developments from the industry mostly relating to handling and transportation of the crop, and
- thirdly some technology is imported directly from overseas, such as equipment and Agrichemicals
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