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Peter Wren-Hilton

Why New Zealand agritech can become a global leader

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Yesterday, I posted a piece that talked about New Zealand agritech’s role in assisting New Zealand farmers create their own emissions pricing and testing regime. This comes off the back of the government’s announcement last week that New Zealand will be the first nation in the world to fully fold agriculture into an emissions pricing scheme, with a comprehensive price on greenhouse gases introduced by 2025.

This is a major move and one that provides New Zealand’s agritech sector with the opportunity to take a global leadership role. As I said in yesterday’s post, consumers around the world are becoming more sensitive towards climate change and the size of agriculture’s carbon footprint. The New Zealand farming organisations & representatives who worked with government to facilitate last’ week’s announcement are fully aware of this. And so are New Zealand farmers on the ground.

This is not however just a New Zealand issue. It’s one that affects the whole world. By becoming the first nation in the world to fully fold agriculture into an emissions pricing scheme, this provides the country with a massive opportunity. Some of the first placeholders are already in place.

Working with Farm2050, Agritech New Zealand looks forward to facilitating a three-year nutrients initiative that will see disruptive nutrient technologies tested and benchmarked in New Zealand. By running field trials in different locations from Northland to the Waikato, Hawkes Bay to Taranaki and the Canterbury plains to Southland, we will be able to analyse the application and measurement of different nutrient-focused solutions that will not only provide insights into their impact on plant yield, but also their mitigation effect against negative environmental impact. By bringing international solutions to New Zealand, our own domestic agritech sector will be able to learn, compare and then compete.

As part of this process, the all of government agritech taskforce is working with Agritech New Zealand to recommend actions and initiatives that support these deliverables. Thinking big is driving a lot of this discussion and this means viewing major issues such as climate change and the carbon footprint from a global perspective. If we can address these challenges in New Zealand, then we have every opportunity to export that knowledge and technology to the rest of the world.

For New Zealand farmers and growers, this is great news. I’ve watched them get bagged from some sections of the media over the past year and for the vast majority of these hardworking folk, the criticism is largely unjustified. Over the past few months, I’ve also seen some of the personal toll that this has taken on farmers I know. My simple message is that you are not on your own and that there are a very large number of people in New Zealand’s agritech sector working on the technologies and innovations that can help address some of the key environmental challenges that we all face.

Perhaps a bit more personal than most of my posts, but it’s important to put things into perspective. New Zealand’s farmers and growers continue to be the backbone of much of our economy. I detect a real desire from both industry and government to tackle some of the key environmental challenges we face, together. Whilst much of the recent focus has been on regulation and the cost of implementing this, I believe it’s time to start looking at the amazing innovation and technology coming out of New Zealand’s agritech sector that will help industry reach this major milestone by 2025.

With the correct mindset in place, this will happen.

It is this fantastic opportunity should be driving the current discussion.

Peter Wren-Hilton Peter is Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand and founder of Wharf42 in Tauranga. Peter helps organise major agritech conferences in New Zealand and offshore and connects early stage New Zealand agritech companies with international markets.