Monday, April 22, 2024

More collaboration needed in agritech space

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Greater collaboration is being called on to better coordinate and fund agritech solutions to mitigating agriculture’s carbon footprint. These solutions were critical to efforts to mitigate the farming industry’s carbon emissions, British High Commissioner Laura Clarke said in a panel discussion at Fieldays.
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There was a huge amount that New Zealand and the United Kingdom could do together to enhance agritech development.

“We’re doing a lot together between the UK and NZ on agritech development, developing partnerships with real world benefits,” Clarke said.

She says collaboration was a key component of Great Britain’s climate change strategy.

“It needs to be a ‘whole of society, whole of economy’ effort,” she said.

Callaghan Innovation agritech general manager Simon Yarrow says innovators needed to be included in discussions around climate change research and technology.

“Where is the voice of the innovator, because they are guys and gals who are going to be the one who helps solve this?” Yarrow asked.

NZ’s private sector investment in climate technology was tiny compared to other countries with advanced economies.

“These other economies were investing 1000 times more than NZ is on climate tech,” he said, adding there was a huge opportunity for NZ to do better.

Yarrow says there is a “coalition of the willing” among this sector to drive this technology forward. 

He backed Clarke’s call for collaboration in the sector.

“We need to be working in the ag sector with the food companies and the ag companies. We need industry organisations and government agencies to be working together and we need investors,” he said.

He says NZ could not resolve all of the issues around using technology to help mitigate climate change and he was wanting to work with others in that space.

Former Agritech NZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton says he would love to see in the UK-NZ free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated some focus on collaboration between the two countries within the agritech space.

“There’s certainly ambition in NZ to scale up our agritech sector,” Wren-Hilton said.

He hoped it would extend to more collaboration around licencing and IP between the two countries.

“It’s absolutely possible and we see that happening today,” he said.

The British High Commission’s head of trade Colin Leeman says trade agreements did provide a vehicle to look at cooperation for businesses.

Yarrow says the right kind of regulatory framework was going to be very important to help drive this technology. For Callaghan, that regulatory framework had to help them create commercial solutions.

“If you’re doing environmentally well, you’re probably reducing your inputs and hopefully increasing your outputs,” Callaghan said.

“We need that right framework to drive good behaviour.”

Wren-Hilton says there was a pretty unanimous response on regulations when speaking to growers and farmers at Fieldays, that there is lots of it.

“What we need are the tools and applications to be able to address the challenges and that is one area where agritech has a hugely important role to play,” Wren-Hilton said.

“Regulation without innovation is, I wouldn’t say pointless, but it’s not going to have the same effect. There has to be a carrot as well as a stick.”

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