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FOMA welcomes "A great fillip for Maori agri-business"

Media Release 16 April, 2014
Federation welcomes news of SFF grants: ‘A great fillip for Maori agri-business’

The Federation of Maori Authorities is welcoming the announcement that agri-business projects it put forward on behalf of its membership and Maori farmers have been awarded grants from the Sustainable Farming Fund this year.

The three grants as announced by the Ministry of Primary Industries’ Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton have a value of $1.58 million.

“This is welcome news – it’s one of the single biggest fillips for Maori agribusiness that I can remember,” Federation CEO TeHoripo Karaitiana said. “These projects will have significant bottom line impact for the Maori authorities that will be participating.”

The projects involve Federation members with significant operations in livestock, dairying and kiwifruit production. They build upon programmes the Federation has run over the past two years that have seen extraordinary improvements in both production levels and quality of output, and in governance arrangements.

“These programmes will allow some of those that have participated in the earlier pilot programmes to move to the upper quartile of performance in their sectors, while newcomers can follow in their footsteps.”

This fillip comes on top of news that the Maori agri-business sector is booming with many of the leading farming operations posting near record profits over recent years.

“The commodity boom has enhanced the returns for many of our leading farming operations, and despite the high dollar value many of them are now flush with cash and looking to make the next level of investment.

“This explains why confidence among our business managers is so high. They are sitting in a strong fiscal position.”

While the projects will give priority to existing Federation members, they would not exclude new members, Karaitiana said. “The more we include the wider the impact,” he said.
A summary of the successful Projects is attached.

Project summaries
Summaries of the projects that have been awarded grants:

1). Integrated Management to Improve Productivity and Profitability for Māori agribusiness

This project will increase returns for sheep and beef by providing an integrated suite of farm management and benchmarking tools. The project will provide:

• Promotion of project benefits and engagement to Māori farm managers and governors
• Assessment of farm by the delivery team and selection and implementation of appropriate tools. The assessment will cover the key enablers - feed supply, animal performance, business /financial management and farm system integration.
• Development of a system-based business plan and data capture initiated using selected tools
• Guidance in the implementation of changes. These may be changes in animal management, feed supply and business systems e.g. reporting.
• Measuring what changed so that the farmer can get an objective assessment of the impacts of changes. This will then guide another series of practice changes on the farm.

This will build on pilot projects that have realised significant increases in returns on participating East Coast farms. It will scale up to 15 farms in three regions in the North Island with an estimated area of 30,000 hectares. This proposal is part of an integrated package being put forward by the Federation of Māori Authorities.

Many tools, e.g. StockCARE® and Farmax, have been developed by the farming industry to support productivity and profitability improvement on farm. The issue that has been identified for Māori sheep and beef farms is that the uptake and use of these tools needs to be substantially increased.

2). Tūhono Whenua kiwifruit orchard productivity – achieving consistent and sustainable high orchard to gate returns

This project will significantly lift the productivity and profitability of collectively owned Māori kiwifruit orchards in the Bay of Plenty, Northland and Gisborne. Using a customised orchard advisory approach, returns will be increased by more than $10,000/hectare. Over the targeted 200 hectares, this will conservatively increase orchard returns by more than $2,000,000 annually.

The project will build on the successful prototype initiated in 2013 with Te Awanui Huka Pak (TAHP) and which is now engaged on more than 65 hectares of orchard. Based on the knowledge and methods developed in the prototype the next stage is to build scale by expanding it within the Bay of Plenty and to other regions. A Productivity Manager supported by an orchard advisor will work with kiwifruit orchards at operational and governance level to increase productivity and profitability to meet agreed targets. Based on orchard data obtained by the prototype project, there is at least 500 hectares of collectively owned Māori kiwifruit orchards. The objective is to have at least 200 hectares contracted into the project.

The project will embed productivity and increase skill and capability development for both managers and Trustees, ultimately resulting in increased profits

3). ‘Conducting business in your sector’: A series of high-level governance workshops for the farm management committees or trustees of Maori trusts and incorporations

This series of workshops is for the Boards and Committees of Management of, in particular dairy and sheep and beef industries.

Māori Authorities number above 350 throughout New Zealand. Each is governed by a Board that typically number between 3 and 7 members.

These entities are in control of assets valued in excess of $11 billion.
This project is designed to lift the boards understanding of the dairy and sheep and beef industry they operate in. The workshops will focus on the key drivers of their business.

Board members will be introduced to key aspects of their industry covering areas such as

• feed and animal systems
• financial planning and reports
• value chains
• People and how you manage them in your business
• Leadership, and
• the impact of public policy and regulations on their business

Armed with this knowledge, board’s will be better prepared to deal with these issues in order to provide effective governance to their farming entities and be able to hold management accountable for their actions, leading to better planning and better outcomes. This is critical if Maori are to unlock their potential which will assist the government achieve their growth agenda of doubling exports by 2025 as well as He Kai Kei Aku Ringa, the Maori Growth Strategy.

This project draws on the highly successful workshop format that the Tairawhiti Land Development Trust has piloted with 6 boards in the Tairawhiti Region. The success of these workshops will provide the assurance that the Māori sector needs to pick this program up and run with more entities in the future.
The workshops include a comprehensive evaluation process of the program and a supportive post workshop process. These components are seen as essential to assist with the implementation phase of the workshop.


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