In June, I was delighted to spend time with Professor Andy Lowe during the pre-2035 Oceania Summit workshop in Adelaide.
In the Food Futurists x evokeAG. collab podcast below, Andy spoke to me about the importance of collaboration and agritech innovation to address climate change. To read the evokeAG article in detail, please check out the link and podcast here
Early bird tickets to the 2035 Oceania Summit are about to close. To purchase yours and meet an amazing group of delegates traveling across the Tasman, book yours today at www.2035.ag/registrations/
Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking more deeply about the role that agritech can play in supporting New Zealand’s primary sector scale globally.
Taken at its simplest, agritech has the ability to address a number of ‘on-farm’ or ‘beyond the farm gate’ challenges. We are buoyed by our ‘Good for the World’ purpose and it helps drive the NZ Agritech story. Dig a little deeper however, and the reality becomes a little less evident.
New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade lead the way when it comes to securing market access for New Zealand’s producers. Recently, they successfully secured Free Trade Agreements with both the UK & the EU. The two Ministries achieved the best results they could. Whilst the outcomes benefited some primary sector players however, not every sector was happy. It’s a tough mantra when your main focus and realistically only driver is ‘the interests of the New Zealand producer’. ‘Good for the World’ becomes harder to define. Particularly when you are negotiating with parties providing little to no flexibility.
It goes beyond government. That focus and that driver lies at the heart of many of New Zealand’s Crown Research Institute public funding models. The science and IP generated (which for the record is outstanding) is frequently developed and commercialised for the benefit of the New Zealand producer only. It’s a core part of the funding settings. Exporting that science and IP internationally is not a priority and therefore potential licencing and revenue-generating income is not returned to either New Zealand’s research community or the New Zealand taxpayer.
It’s pretty clear that these models do not exactly fit the ‘Good for the World’ mantra. Our agritech sector however operates differently. It actively seeks out collaborative partnerships with, and in, global markets. As an example Callaghan Innovation & NZTE are supporting agritech entrepreneurs visit Ireland & the UK in September, Australia in February and potentially the US in June.
In October this year, the California Department of Food & Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, is bringing a delegation of officials and growers over to New Zealand for the 2035 Oceania Summit. They are looking to identify potential agritech solutions that might help address some of the challenges that they face back in the US. It made me think more closely around the wider role that New Zealand’s agritech sector can take to support its primary sector. Through developing global relationships based on innovation, trust, common interest and dare I say it, a ‘Good for the World’ mindset, can agritech become a core ‘soft’ diplomatic tool for the wider agriculture sector?
It’s a model I’m becoming quite familiar with. In Australia, I’m fortunate to sit on the evokeAG steering committee. In the US, I sit on the Western Growers Global Advisory Board. This provides a two-way channel for offshore market engagement. It helps build trust and potentially breaks down some of the traditional roadblocks faced by our trade negotiators. Looking for a ‘win-win’ outcome that potentially incorporates agritech collaboration into formal trade negotiations is an interesting prospect.
As an example, whilst the FTA’s with the UK & the EU have been concluded, food security remains a key concern for both countries/blocks. An article on agritech collaboration would have meant that whilst quotas and tariff negotiation had come to an end, on-going engagement, collaboration and partnership hadn’t. It’s an interesting conversation that as a wider sector, I feel we should have.
Last week, Wharf42 was delighted to be able to share the news that the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross, will be a keynote speaker at the 2035 Oceania Summit.
The Secretary’s visit supports a key purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and California Governor Gavin Newsom in San Francisco. As the Summit seeks to identify the tools and technology necessary to assist farmers and growers everywhere to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, securing increased trans-Pacific collaboration with California is a significant opportunity for the Oceania region’s agrifood technology sector.
The Secretary will be accompanied by Dennis Donohue, Director of the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center (WGITC). The Center is based in Salinas in Northern California and has been visited several times by both New Zealand and Australian agritech delegations. For some context, Western Growers members account for over 50% of all fresh produce production in North America. (Personal Disclosure: I sit on the WGITC Global Advisory Board and have learnt at first hand many of the challenges that face these members).
They are not unique to California. Labor (lack of and cost of), a persistent multi-year drought and a drive to increase the use of biologicals are all key areas that growers across much of the US West coast are addressing. One of the main purposes of the Global Advisory Board is to identify offshore research and product that can help meet these challenges. October’s 2035 0ceania Summit provides a platform for New Zealand and Australian research entities and agritech businesses to share their stories with the in-bound delegation.
As indicated above, securing increased trans-Pacific collaboration with California is a significant opportunity for the Oceania region’s agrifood technology sector. If you are looking to enter the US market, October’s Summit will be a great introduction to some of the major opportunities that exist.
In order to register to attend the Summit, early bird ticket pricing closes on 15 August. You can purchase your ticket today at Registrations | Oceania Agritech (2035.ag)
Understanding ‘The Voice of the Customer’ is a critical function of business. I am therefore delighted that Natalie Smith, Tesco Head of Agriculture and Alice Ritchie, Tesco Agricultural Sustainability Lead, will be attending and speaking at October’s 2035 Oceania Summit in Auckland.
They will talk about Tesco’s sustainability strategy. As a business,Tesco plans to be carbon neutral by 2035. And net zero from ‘farm to fork’ by 2050. What does this mean for New Zealand farmers looking to leverage the recently signed FTA with the UK? And how does our sector’s carbon emissions reduction timetable stack up against Tesco’s sustainability strategy? These are critical questions as New Zealand’s agriculture sector looks to navigate a post-COVID world.
Natalie & Alice are joining a growing list of high profile Summit speakers. Over the past 10 days, we have been delighted to announce five additional key contributors to this list:
- Professor Michelle Colgrave, Future Protein Lead, CSIRO, Australia
- Dr Victoria Hatton, Director of Sustainability & Climate Change, PwC NZ
- Dr Richard Newcomb, Chief Scientist, Plant & Food Research
- Sarah Nolet, General Partner, Tenacious Ventures, Australia’s only dedicated agrifood tech venture fund
- Dr. Gavin Ross, Group GM, Marketing & Innovation, Plant & Food Research
They bring a range of different stakeholder perspectives to the conversation. Over the coming weeks, we will be announcing more local and international experts as the Summit programme continues to build.
For more details about the 2035 Oceania Summit and to register for an early bird ticket, visit www.2035.ag
Supporting farmers and growers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions would look far less convincing if the Summit supporting this action was itself a GHG emitter.
We are therefore delighted to confirm that the 2035 Oceania Summit is a Toitū Certified Carbon Zero Event. Every aspect of the event operations are being audited to ensure that we meet the strict requirements to achieve this certification.
When you register to become a Summit attendee, you can be re-assured that your carbon footprint will be covered by our Toitū certification.
So just what is Toitū?
Toitū is an active verb that means “to sustain”. It asks us to work as individuals, organisations and New Zealanders to care for our planet, people and communities.
Toitū means to sustain continually. We prioritise continuous improvement in the journey to reduce our environmental impact and regenerate our environment.
Toitū also connects our actions with our outcomes. This is important to Toitū as a company, as they ask themselves and their clients to measure, manage and reduce their environmental impacts and carbon emissions, and disclosure these results in a public forum.
About Toitū Envirocare
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To view the 2035 Oceania Summit portal, visit www.2035.ag