The Fruit Control Act, 1924, is an important one as it provides for the establishment of a Fruit Control Board, and is described as an “Act to make Provision for Control of the Fruit Trade.” The following definitions are laid down :—Board is the Export Board of Control, or a Local Control Board established under this Act. Fruit: this term is applied to apples and pears only. Fruit Trees are apple trees and pear trees only. Producers are persons carrying on business as producers of fruit for sale and being the occupiers of orchards registered under the Orchard and Garden Diseases Act of 1908. The Export Control Board may give directions as to grading, packing, handling, storage, shipment, sale, insurance against loss, display at exhibitions, and generally all matters relating to handling, distributing and disposal of fruit. It may also appoint overseas agents to act under its directions. To enable the Export. Control Board to control effectively the export of fruit, the Governor‐General may, under the Customs Act, 1913, prohibit the export of any fruit save in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister of Agriculture in terms approved by the Board. Part I. of the Act applies to fruit grown for export, and s. 3, i, states that this part of the Act shall come into operation by Proclamation approved by the Executive Council. It is, however, provided by s. 3, ii, that the Proclamation shall not issue unless a proposal has been carried at a poll of producers by a majority of valid votes recorded, and (sec. 4) if seventy per cent. of the producers in a district wish their district to be excluded from the operations of the Act, then the Minister of Agriculture shall by notice in the “ Gazette ” exclude that district. In this way the important Otago provincial district was excluded by notice on 15th January, 1925. Since it seems that no provision was made in Part I. of the original Act in the event of persons changing their minds, Otago presumably would have excluded itself for ever from the operations of the Act. The Act was designed to aid fruit growers and to further the interests of the apple exporters, for under s.s. 8–14, the Export Control Board has power to assume absolute or limited control over fruit intended for export after service on the owner of the fruit or by notice in the newspapers. It guaranteed, in fact, the quality of the fruit. Otago fruit growers seemed to have thought better of the matter, and an Amending Act (No. 6, 1932) was passed whereby (s. 2) Otago fell into line with the rest of the Dominion. Part II. of the Act applies to fruit for home consumption. It is not at present operative in any part of the Dominion, as the necessary authority under the Act has not been given by poll of fruit growers. Provision in this case, however, has been made for fresh polls to be taken if ten per cent. of the producers petition that this should be done. It is not as far as we know anywhere implied, still less expressly stated, that the Act shall be made to apply to any fruits other than apples or pears. Still, it seems only reasonable to see in this Act a basis for further legislation of the same kind which may in the future be applied to other fruits. It seems to have operated most successfully as far as apples for export are concerned. During the debate in the Legislative Council on the Fruit Preserving Industry Act of 1913, the then member for Nelson, which is perhaps the most successful apple‐growing district in the Dominion, stated that two years before—that is about the year 1911—there was a shipment of apples to England. “Nothing has been done as far as I can gather in following up that experiment.” The Minister for Agriculture was able to assure him that the apple consignment to England had turned out very satisfactorily. The export trade in apples has perhaps turned out to be far more satisfactory that anyone twenty years ago, either in New Zealand or in this country, could have supposed. The experimental shipment of 1911 was followed by the four years of war with its immense disorganisation, so that the industry, as we know it, may be said to have originated with this Act. In a word, the Act ensures uniformity of the consignments of fresh apples and pears exported from the Dominion to this and other countries. The export of fruit from New Zealand has, as everyone knows, been in operation, with varying success, for a number of years. Otago, for example, had established, through the Otago Provincial Fruitgrowers' Council, its own system of shipping and marketing fruit grown in the Province and intended for export—this indeed appears to have been the chief reason for the refusal of Otago to vote itself into control under Part I. of the 1924 Act. Still, we agree with the member for Egmont when he stated in the course of the debate on the Bill that “ the export of fruit is virtually a new business.” It will be readily seen that the control and guarantee of fruit—apples and pears—for export, and the advice and assistance rendered to the fruit growers must in the long run react on the output of the growers of every kind of fruit in the Dominion, it appears to be only a question of time. The time will have come when New Zealand grows more fruit than it can consume. When the Dominion grows the surplus fruit the amount of imported fruit must very materially decrease. Fresh fruit will still be exported, but we venture to predict that canned fruit will form a not inconsiderable proportion of the fruit trade taken as a whole when that time comes. The jam‐making industry already absorbs a considerable quantity of fruit, and if jam can be made fruit can be canned. Thirty‐five years ago a Mr. W. J. Palmer stated “ Nature has in the most unmistakable manner destined New Zealand to be pre‐eminently a fruit‐growing country… . New Zealand can produce, without artificial aid, almost everything that California has to raise by the expensive agency of irrigation.” If New Zealand can do that, then it is in as good a position to supply us with some of our imported canned fruit, as are the Dominions of Canada, Australia and South Africa, and the United States. Indeed, climatically it is on the whole better equipped than are the other countries just mentioned. Still, things seemed to have moved slowly as regards fruit‐canning in New Zealand. In 1910 and in other years the Year Book observes “ a great deal more might be done in bottling fruits … if only for home consumption.” The total amount of apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums gathered in the Dominion amounts to 2,363 thousand bushels in round figures, and the last four named fruits make but 12·5 per cent. of this total. There would therefore seem to be plenty of room for expansion in the growth of these fruits which presumably form no inconsiderable amount of the fruit which is being canned for home consumption at the present time. Otago heads the list for production in all four, and markedly so for nectarines and apricots. It may be remarked that out of a total of 18 thousand acres returned as under fruit, the average size of a holding is about 7½ acres, the number of holdings decreasing rapidly after the 20–30 acre limit has been passed. New Zealand is therefore technically what we should describe as a land of small holdings as far as the fruit industry is concerned. In 1931 canned and bottled fruit valued at over £60,000 was imported into New Zealand—this figure does not include the value of imported pineapples. The country of origin was mainly Australia, and the fruits for the most part consisted of apricots and peaches. In 1931, 20,399 cwt. of fruit of New Zealand origin and valued at £45,691 was canned, and 16,086 cwt. valued at £29,337 was pulped. The Dominion has evidently still a very long way to go before it becomes self‐supporting in the matter of canned fruits, even though it may be able to grow the fruit itself, while an export trade in canned fruits is presumably still a long way below the commercial horizon.
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