By Tessa Strang, AgriHQ cadet
In the past few years, we have experienced a pandemic, a number of extreme weather events and we are currently experiencing a recession.
Therefore, it was relevant that the repetition of the word ‘change’ came up early and often at the E Tipu IFAMA 2023 Global Summit in Christchurch.
The first session of the day was taken by Lisa Tumahai, chair of the Tribal Parliament of Ngai Tahu. As an experienced leader within the Māori agribusiness sector, she spoke on behalf of the industry by addressing the important notion of “when we think about the generations to come, we need to consider what we are leaving for them”.
Following on from Lisa, Aidan Connolly, president of AgriTech Capital mentioned that the focus for industry now, should be the plan for what is ahead in the next 24 months, rather than the next 10-15 years.
With the accelerating change of both the technological and regulatory environments, industry members are expected to acknowledge the change and move alongside it, keeping them one step ahead of what’s to come in regard to future challenges.
Connolly used the example of in-shed livestock monitoring to exemplify how fast technology is developing and what opportunities there are to adopt this technology in order to maximise sustainability and profitability.
The in-shed AI example Aidan used, revealed that technology can now monitor how productive cows are in regard to what they eat, how far they move, and what their overall animal health is, by setting up a robotic monitor inside the cow shed.
Mike Casey has been an example of how change can be taken as an opportunity to turn a possibility into a reality.
Casey has established a 100% electric cherry orchard. His mission is to decarbonise New Zealand’s food system through the elimination of on-farm fossil fuel use.
Although the idea of incorporating electrical machinery into a farming system seems well and truly off the radar for most farmers, he has made it his mission to provide transparency within the industry to encourage other farmers to take similar steps in order to join the “sustainability highway”.
He is certain consumers are shifting their focus towards value-added primary products that have undergone a sustainable production cycle, which is why he encouraged other farmers to get on board, as he believed the value will bring higher return.
Ending the day, were Aimee Blake and Finn Ross, the co-chairs of Future Farmers New Zealand.
They have created a team of young farmers from many different walks of life who have come together to create solutions for problems that have occurred due to problems that disrupt the food system in New Zealand from operating at its full potential.
Warren McNabb, an experienced leader in nutrition, currently standing as the Professor of Nutritional Sciences in the Riddet Institute, a well known centre of research within New Zealand.
He reinforced the importance of a diverse diet in order to maintain a well balanced diet. He touched on the importance of protein and calcium in the average human’s diet, as well as the source of vitamin B12 which can only be sourced from meat.
His key objective was for the audience to acknowledge and take on board the notion of “plant based and animal optimised” into their future dietary habits in order to achieve a well balanced diet.
Later, we heard from Jeremy Hill, chief science and technology officer at Fonterra.
Jeremy presented the key actions Fonterra is taking in order to tackle emissions reductions.
Key facts shared included the emissions categories for each aspect of the production process. Ninety percent of overall emissions the company contributes is from on-farm operations, 10% is caused my manufacturing processes, and 1% from distribution.
These figures speak loudly about where the main source of emissions is coming from, aloowing Fonterra to pinpoint of where they need to improve their carbon footprint.
Their focus going forward, stems from the two key points of early life programming, including the implementation of probiotics to influence the gut, and post emission destruction, such as sequestration methods.
The final and most influential takeaway from the second day of the 2023 E Tipu Boma Agri Summit was the session run by Kaitlin Dawson, executive director of NZ Food Waste.
Kaitlin’s singular most important message was the impact of food waste on climate change, and how an every day habit can make a positive impact towards future climatic outcomes for New Zealand.
Portion sizes are a controversial topic that many New Zealander’s avoid more often then not due to the judgement factor around how much we should or shouldn’t eat. However, when it comes to restaurant and cafe serving sizes, they tend to differ substantially, creating an automatic channel of food waste by simply giving consumers too much to eat.
Kaitlin reinforced that if consumers were to suggest how much food they are willing to eat, and communicate this with the hospitality provider, the chances of food waste occurring in this particular way, will decrease.
There are many factors that will need to be considered before a successful outcome arises from this solution, however, it is a step in the right direction.
Another key point Dawson addressed is the way in which retail channels indirectly influence food waste by decisioning what produce they purchase from producers. Some retail stores have adopted secondary markets for produce that isn’t quite up to the high-end consumers expectation.
Therefore, instead of producers throwing away the goods that retailers refuse to sell to the end consumer, they are offering a lower quality product at a lower price. Although quality is a decisioning factor for consumers, a cheaper price for the same product will always create an appealing factor for consumers.