The wait for a BREXIT outcome continues as production Horticulture steps into 2021 not quite knowing the tariff situation and unsure of the implications to growers and consumers. The list of trucks continue to grow at Calais and Zeebrugge, with logistics companies now finding it terribly difficult to convince their drivers that the UK is a safe and secure run. Shipping companies have subsequently increased their container costs and the fresh produce market will see friction at border crossings that will impact the supermarket shelves.
In addition to this we have the challenges of plant imports and plant passport control with continental Europe and with our cousins in the Republic & Northern Ireland. Benelux is the largest producer of HONS in Europe and already we can see growers deciding to forego with the UK market. Some of these are highly specialised growers and third generation family enterprises. They will be missed. Their equivalent in the UK does not exist and the UK land that did grow these crops is now a distant memory and down to housing.
This Chartered Institute runs efficiently with the dedication of volunteer members and I wish to take this opportunity to mention a few. Susan Nicholas our Vice President has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to upgrade our database and web site interface and this project will be completed at the end of January ‘21. This will facilitate member account updates, registering for events and the logging of CPD. Jason Daff, our Hon Secretary, maintains our charitable status and has dedicated his time in 2020 undertaking a large programme of CIHort CPD via webinars. The Autumn series of webinars was a great success. Dr David Elphinstone is also hard at work completing the programme of ‘Routes to Chartership’. This new programme will be launched in early summer in conjunction with the University of Reading. Finally, our Hon Treasurer Gabriel Roe has had the unenviable task of having to manage the institute finances through a pandemic and much subscription uncertainty. Subscriptions have remained strong through this year and we are all grateful that our membership rallied and provided much needed support and strength to CIHort. I should also highlight the vital contribution of our Journal Editor, Barbara Segall. The expanse of articles and broad church of horticulture is fittingly represented in every copy and is now a must read.
We have also received great support from Rachel Kemp and Ruth Harris, our secretariat service at British Growers in Louth, Lincolnshire. Their resolve through the whole COVID period has helped us deliver an uninterrupted service to members, launch all the video conferencing webinars and enabled us to continue our web and database upgrades.
One significant HR change we have completed in 2020 is the appointment of Helen Sessions as Development Officer. Helen will commence her role in February 2021 and we look forward to welcoming her to CIHort. Helen joins us from the National Trust.
Finally my thanks to all the branch committees and Trustees for your support of CIHort in 2020. This has been a challenging year for every branch, but we have pulled through and grown our Chartered Institute. The plans for further progress are taking shape and I look forward to seeing you all in 2021 on a video conference call and hopefully in person.
A very Merry Christmas to all Members.
Gerald Bonner CHort, FCIHort