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Fieldays a Catalyst for Agritech Industry

Fieldays a Catalyst for Agritech Industry Export Growth

11 June 2004 -- New Zealand National Fieldays will provide a springboard for local agritechnology companies looking to export world-class Kiwi ingenuity, according to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Agricultural technology firms already contribute significantly to New Zealand’s economic wealth in earning over $3 billion each year. The challenge, according to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s (NZTE) director of Agritech and Life Sciences David Powell, is to further internationalise the sector.

“Currently New Zealand’s agritech industry earns $650 million from exports, but our medium term goal is increase this to $1 billion. The diverse sector includes pre-harvest input such as seeds, fertilisers, genetics and animal health products, along with machinery, software, fencing and even agricultural tourism. To achieve this goal we formed, and are continuing to collaborate with New Zealand Agritech Inc (NZA) on a number of initiatives to build the industry’s capability and enlarge the range of niche high-margin products. NZTE is also working with the agritech industry to increase the number of markets using pasture based farming systems, so as to create more markets for New Zealand technologies.”

Since the 2003 Fieldays NZTE has adopted a partnership approach with NZA to encourage further exports to the primary market of Australia and emerging markets such as South America. “Fieldays is significant as the largest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere. Last year it attracted 125,000 visitors including 3000 from 45 different countries. The key event generated around $74 million in direct business and contributed to over $225 million in sales. Using Fieldays strategically will help our businesses access new global markets, expand international linkages, and showcase world-class capabilities.”

NZTE is co-funding and supporting a variety of endeavours associated with Fieldays, including an exporters breakfast, an industry dinner, the launch of a CD-Rom project and the hosting of international media and distributors.

Like last year, distributors, agents and buyers are being brought over from Australia, along with two distributors from South America, says Powell. “We are focusing on our largest and closest trading partner Australia and the South American markets of Chile and Uruguay where there are significant opportunities for growth. NZTE and NZA are also hosting journalists from influential publications in Australia and Canada to join the expected 120 journalists covering Fieldays. One writer is from Australia’s Weekly Times which has a circulation of 75,000 in Victoria, while the Canadian journalist contributes to a number of influential agricultural publications, including the Western Producer, the largest agricultural publication in Canada. Both the international distributors and media will enjoy the four day event and special networking and educational functions as well as tours and site visits before and after Fieldays.”

The journalists, distributors, agents, exporters and buyers will be among the 100 attending the Export breakfast where high profile agri-business leader Craig Norgate will speak. “Being in the public eye Craig Norgate is a drawcard and his ideas for the rural sector will be of wide interest,” says Powell. “He has some strong messages for exporters and what New Zealand has to do to compete offshore.”

New Zealand Agritech chief executive John Wilson says more than 200 people are expected for the agritech industry dinner also on 17 June. “It is designed as a networking event for exporters, buyers, distributors and media. The dinner will also feature the launch of an innovative CD-Rom project to promote New Zealand’s agricultural excellence.”

NZA, formed as a Joint Action Group in 1987 to assist companies expand their businesses and increase exports, currently has 70 full members and 28 associates. “We act as a conduit of information between the industry and central government by facilitating offshore tradeshows, raising the industry’s capabilities through training and seminars, providing networking opportunities and acting as an advocate for the industry.”

Wilson says Fieldays is a major opportunity to raise the profile of agritech, and also develop relationships with agritech companies to help more firms to export. “It is great to be working with NZTE, as we couldn’t do it on our own. Collaboration between government and private enterprise, combined with a cluster approach means we can fast-track the growth of more export-oriented companies.”

ENDS

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