Bay of Plenty seed company owner Charlotte Connoley has been elected to the top seat of the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, becoming the first woman to head the industry.
Appointed at the NZGSTA’s annual meeting in Auckland this week, Connoley takes the president’s position from Michael Hales, who stepped down from the top role but will continue to serve on the association’s executive council.
Connoley is co-owner and general manager of Kings Seeds NZ, an ecommerce seed company based out of Bay of Plenty supplying home gardeners and wholesale customers nationwide.
With more than 20 years’ experience in the seed industry, she joined the NZGSTA executive in 2018, the first female executive in the association’s 100-year history.
She has chaired the vegetable business group for the past five years.
“I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead the association,” Connoley said.
“The focus will still remain firmly on member value initiatives, opportunities for education, advocacy, collaboration and trade.”
On becoming the first female president of the association, Connoley said the challenge for the industry is to be an attractive employer of diverse talent.
“Personally, it is important to me that females within our industry feel supported to take roles at any level throughout their organisations that they are qualified for.
“Demand for knowledgeable primary sector employees is always strong in NZ with an ag-hort based economy, and so the challenge remains for the seed industry to be an attractive employer of diverse talent.”
The seed industry in NZ is recognised worldwide as a critical component in the agri-food value chain and as a leading counter-season producer, processor and exporter of high-quality seed.
“We have a highly motivated group of industry members who are contributing to growth and change within the industry,” she said.
“Operationally, while we have seen some improvements in policy, many uncertainties remain – affecting the entire agriculture sector – that could impose additional compliance burdens on business.
“Our relationship with government agencies such as the Ministry for Primary Industries remains key to clear communication to work through these challenges for our sector.”
The association continues to evolve and ensure its relevance in modern agriculture, including the soon-to-be-launched new seed certification project, which will deliver lasting change for the next generation of seed growers and merchants.
“Our focus will be to continue the good work of previous executives and to play our part in domestic and global food security whilst providing value to our members throughout the agri-food value chain.”