Rural round-up

February 20, 2014

4.9 billion reasons why our primary industries rock:

An expected $4.9 billion surge in New Zealand’s primary exports confirms why CNBC labelled New Zealand a ‘rock star’ economy. The announcement came at the Riddet Institute’s Agri-Food Summit.

“It is significant that Riddet Institute’s co-director, Professor Paul Moughan, said New Zealand has great farmers, great processor/marketers and great scientists,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers president.

“Professor Moughan said we stand on the cusp of a revolution and we agree. We now feed an estimated 40 million people around the world and the world is crying out for our primary exports.

“Increasing global prosperity is arguably behind the Ministry for Primary Industries now forecasting an expected $4.9 billion uplift in our primary exports. It is now expected primary exports for 2013/14 will be worth $36.4 billion. . .

Pigging out proves profitable – Jamie Morton:

How do you stop truckloads of unsaleable food from going to the dump – and turn it into something useful? Put a few thousand piggies in the middle.

Each day at the Ratanui Development Company, near Feilding, two trucks deliver around 20,000 litres of whey, to be gobbled up by 8300 pigs.

This by-product of cheese-making – along with other foods such as bread, yoghurt, cheese and dog biscuits – make up about 40 per cent of its hungry hogs’ diet.

“When you drill down on the volume of stuff that these pigs eat, it usually blows people away,” farm director Andrew Managh said.

But more impressive is the idea of what this novel factory-to-farm approach could mean for recycling in New Zealand. The huge piggery is one of 23 farming operations partnered with Auckland-based EcoStock Supplies, which claims its unique business model could dramatically slash the burden on the country’s landfills by millions of tonnes each year. . .

Last stand a fund farewell – Sally Rae:

They’re called simply The Last Stand.

When shearing identity John Hough decided to make his last stand before retiring and contest the national shearing sports circuit, some of his mates decided to accompany him.

Mr Hough, who is soon to turn 70, was joined by Johnny Fraser, of North Otago, Robert McLaren (Hinds), Rocky Bull (Tinwald), Tom Wilson (Cust), Gavin Rowland (Dunsandel), who is also chairman of Shearing Sports New Zealand, and Norm Harraway (Rakaia). . .

Standout season for rodeo rookie – Sally Rae:

Omarama shepherd Katey Hill has had a stellar rodeo season with her young quarter-horse Boots and is leading the national Rookie of the Year title in barrel racing.

But after such a busy season, with a lot of time spent on the road, Miss Hill (22) made the decision, due to Boots’ young age, to ”pull him back a bit” and finish the season on a quiet note.

She said she was heading to the North Island for several rodeos this month, but was borrowing a mount, and Boots was staying at home on the farm. . .

China grapples with food for fifth of world:

Feeding nearly a fifth of the world’s population is no easy feat – and the Chinese government says farming methods will have to be overhauled if it’s going to feed its 1.3 billion people in the future.

A visiting senior Chinese government official and agricultural expert, Chen Xiwen, told a meeting at the Beehive on Tuesday that while agricultural productivity has been increasing, Chinese farming is facing hurdles in producing its own food. . .

A dog’s life focus for photographer – Sally Rae:

Andrew Fladeboe describes working dogs as the ”most noble of creatures”.

That passion for dogs – and photography – has led American-born Mr Fladeboe to travel to New Zealand as a Fulbright fellow.

He was awarded the grant to photograph working dogs and he will work with the University of Canterbury to understand the dogs from social, historical and cultural perspectives.

When it came to selecting a country in which to undertake the fellowship, Australia or New Zealand stood out. . .


A call to (f)arms

August 5, 2012

An independent report on the future of New Zealand’s agri-food sector has made a  call to arms.

The report commissioned by the Riddet Institute calls for a joint approach from industry and government to drive the activities needed to treble the value of exports by the sector by 2025.

It was developed by an independent team led by Dr Kevin Marshall, in response to a call by industry senior executives, who challenged the Institute  to develop a strategy for science and education-led economic advancement of the New Zealand food industry.

Dr Marshall said, “Our strategies are neither new nor unique, but, in the past, implementation by industry has failed. Crucially we have provided a pathway and a proposed mechanism for action that will work. There is urgency now, because New Zealand faces a mediocre economic future if we don’t drive the major recommendations in this report to fruition.

“Agri-food leaders need to know what to do, how to do it and how to develop the resources they need to do it effectively.”

Professor Paul Moughan, Riddet Institute co-director said, “New Zealand has unrealised potential in agri-food. But until all key parts of the sector work together in a planned way, New Zealand’s economic growth will be not be maximised. It’s time for action by the agri-food industry and action that has a good chance of success. This is not just another strategy, but a blueprint for action.”

The Institute  describes itself as  Centre of Research Excellence focusing on the boundaries between food science and digestive physiology and human nutrition

It’s a partnership between the University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago.

The report  has come up with four transformational strategies:

       1.   Selectively and profitably increase the quantities and sales of the current range of agri-food products.

       2.   Profitably produce and market new, innovative, high value food and beverage products.

       3.   Develop value chains that enhance the integrity, value and delivery of  New Zealand products and increase profits to producers, processors and exporters.

       4.   Become world leaders in sustainability and product integrity.

And it says:

None of  these strategies is new – all have been raised in one or more previous reports. They are all critically important and complement one another but they have not yet been adequately acted on to achieve the level of growth targeted for the sector.

The targets are expressed as revenue goals but it is important to recognise that volume alone is not the purpose of  the strategies.  The focus on growing customer value thus enabling higher prices, and reducing costs, will together contribute to higher margins and so to more profits for sector businesses.  Lower costs may allow lower prices that may make it possible to compete in markets which are otherwise inaccessible.

 Government has taken many effective steps in the last few years that will contribute to accelerating growth of  the  agri-food sector.  The agri-food industry must now make the most of  the opportunities provided by these initiatives. The targets have been set. Government has set direction and committed increased effort and resources. Industry must now act.

The Institute has a vision for  agri-foods in 2025: that the sector makes an even greater contribution to New Zealand’s social, environmental and economic well-being in a  changing world:

         •    New Zealand’s agri-food sector is globally recognised and valued by customers and consumers as a trusted supplier of  quality goods and services that meet market demands and for which they pay a premium;

         •    Using innovative processes, agri-food businesses have profitably increased overseas earnings to $60 billion p.a., thereby contributing 50% of  the Government’s 2025 goal of  raising the contribution of  total exports from 30% to 40% of  GDP;

         •    Sufficient R&D and capability building has been undertaken such that agri-food businesses are poised to continue to grow export revenue profitably;

         •    Sustainable practices are embedded across all agri-food production and manufacturing industries;

         •    Product standards and regulations have developed in New Zealand in conjunction with industry and are considered to be a source of  competitive advantage rather than an imposed compliance cost;

         •    Employees in the agri-food sector enjoy salaries that are competitive with those of  other industries and countries;

         •    Government agencies and the private sector collaborate closely with a shared vision;

     and New Zealand continues to be a great place in which to live and pursue a career.

The Institute has made a call to arms which is in effect a call to farms and the industries which service and support them from researchers through to processors and marketers.

The world’s population is growing faster than its food production.

New Zealand is well placed to benefit from that but increased production, and the financial rewards which come from that, won’t happen without research and the willingness and ability to implement its findings.


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