The Future of AgriFood

05 April 2017 / Published in Tech & Innovation

We don’t inherit the land from our parents; we borrow it from our children.

For New Zealand to produce the best quality of food for the world there’s a need to change our mind-set, and adapt to the changing wants and needs of global consumers. It’s a long way to move food from NZ to where it needs to be eaten around the world, and competing on price may not be the most effective or sustainable approach for the future of the sector.

As part of this year’s AgriFood Investment Week, ASB was proud to support the Future Leaders event, where three young people shared their vision for NZs agrifood sector. These young people will be the decision makers of the future and in order for the industry to prosper, more people need to be made aware of and given the opportunity to study agriculture.

It’s important to provide opportunities for leaders to collaborate and learn from one another to cultivate a prosperous sector. Here’s what these young leaders share for their vision of the future.


In order for the industry to thrive we need people, and currently not a lot of young people choose to study agriculture at school. Mount Albert Grammar student Fatima Imran spoke about this need and the importance of debunking a few myths.

Agriculture isn’t just about tractors, cows and sheep. While many of her fellow students saw agriculture as a “bum subject”, Fatima has embraced the subject and her enthusiasm has led more and more students to see this as a subject that holds value, rather than just something for easy credits. With an 8.1 hectare working farm right on its doorstep, MAGS is perfectly set up to offer high quality agricultural education and is in a position to change this perception. Youth interest won’t happen overnight but with more young people like Fatima choosing careers in agriculture, there are bright signs for the industry.

Read more about ASB Bank MAGS farm.

Rural – Urban drift. To revitalise the regions, Fatima discussed the need to look at agriculture as a multi-disciplinary subject, involving business, technology and science to drive interest in the sector from a much wider pool of talent. Agriculture shouldn’t continue to be seen as something only for those with a background in farming. Disruptive technology is predicated to have a massive impact and human skills need to grow and develop in parallel.

Agriculture isn’t just for boys. Women are  critical to the success of the primary sector and there’s an opportunity to develop this further and harness potential talent and skills. There is no shortage of opportunities. The Agri Women’s Development Trust recently received an extra $289,000 in funding[i] to design and deliver a two-year pilot programme focussed on three groups; Māori women in regional communities, young women entering agri-sector careers, and women with careers outside agriculture whose expertise can be used within the sector. These initiatives are important to the future success of the industry and will help build a diverse and highly skilled sector.

Staying one step ahead

What is agriculture for NZ? It provides us with income and exports, but how do we want the story to be told? We’re not the only agrifood producer in the world and we need to think about where we want to go so we can remain competitive in the future. Trevor Knyvett from KPMG spoke about the need for the agrifood industry to think about tomorrow, and not be left behind.

As Trevor mentioned, “up to this point, we have produced product, sent it to the world and people have bought it.” While we’re great at primary production, we need to change our mind-set to try and reach higher into the value chain.

Increasingly worldwide, consumers want to be closer to their food, have an experience and understand the intangible qualities such as sustainability, origin and cultural value.[ii] Global tastes and the values that are placed on food are changing and NZ has an opportunity to sell our unique story.

If NZ is to reach the goal of doubling primary industry exports by 2025, there needs to be an evolution of the way we see ourselves as producers of the best quality food in the world, and get closer to consumers. Greater financial returns from agrifood will be driven by our role in the value chain and positioning ourselves early to deliver products that the world is hungry for.

You can read more about targeting the changing global food trends in our ASB Perpective 2025 learnings.

Working together

It will take a lot of effort collectively to transform the industry and reach the Governments goal of doubling primary industry exports by 2025. There’s a need to keep this bigger picture in mind and work together to overcome hurdles along the way.

While there is a lot of progress happening in the sector, it’s operating in silos and there needs to be a common direction and vision. Sharing of information and data is hugely important, especially when it comes to giving consumers access to the supply chain, so they can track their products all the way back to the source. There’s a need for greater collaboration within the industry. If we don’t structure ourselves now and adapt, we will get eaten up by the rest of the world.


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