Official Opening of the Chilean Field Days
Hon Nathan Guy
Minister for Primary Industries
Official Opening of the Chilean Field Days
Good morning. It is great to be back in Chile. This is my third trip to Latin America in just over a year, and my second trip to Chile and to this beautiful region.
The last time I was here I accompanied our Prime Minister as part of a broader trade mission across Latin America. This time I am joined by our trade Minister Tim Groser, and a 14 strong New Zealand business delegation.
This delegation includes some of the best of New Zealand's agribusiness, agri-tech, and agricultural training expertise.
Agriculture in New Zealand
Agriculture is a hugely important part of the New Zealand economy. The overall primary sector makes up over 72% of New Zealand's total merchandise exports.
We have been exporting food for over 120 years, and we now export to over 200 countries worldwide. It has been estimated that New Zealand, with a population of 4.5 million people, feeds over 40 million people around the world.
We are the world’s largest exporter of dairy products and lamb, and a major supplier of high quality beef, kiwifruit, apples, honey and seafood.
Because food production is the engine of our economy we place a huge emphasis on getting it right. We pride ourselves on striving to be the best in the world not only in the quality of our produce, but in the way it is produced.
We also place a major emphasis on ensuring that our food safety, biosecurity, animal welfare, and environmental management systems are world class.
What will hopefully become clear today is that to become world leaders in our field, the sector has built up a tradition of harnessing science, research and innovation.
Research and development have been a hallmark of our primary industries for well over a century.
As a nation we are constantly striving to do more with less, add more value to our processes, and make continuous improvements.
By way of example, we produce the same amount of sheep meat today as we did in the early 1980s - but with around half the number of sheep. This proves how our farmers pick up innovative ideas and adopt them inside the farm gate.
And we have bold goals. Our target is to double our primary sector exports by 2025.
This goal won't be achieved by simply selling more of the same thing.
We will need to focus on lifting the value of our exports. I mentioned before that New Zealand feeds over 40 million people. We won't be able to lift that figure too much higher, although investment in innovation and infrastructure such as improved water storage and irrigation will allow us to increase it some way.
My vision for New Zealand's primary sector growth is that we don't aim to dramatically increase our customers around the world, but rather that we change the profile of those 40 million customers. That New Zealand produce is recognised as the highest quality, and that consumers will pay a premium for it.
The other way we will meet the ambitious export double goal is by developing more relationships with countries such as Chile. Building partnerships using our expertise, systems, and technology, on your farms will be to the benefit of both countries. And the Field Days today can be a great start to this.
The Field Days
It gives me great pleasure to open the Inaugural Chile Field Days today.
This event is about showcasing and celebrating innovation in the primary sector.
It has a similar format to New Zealand Field Days, which hold a very important place in New Zealand’s calendar.
Our largest Field Day attracts 130,000 visitors over four days showcasing New Zealand's primary sector expertise to rural, urban, and international visitors.
But good things often start small, and just as those Field Days started small in 1969, I am confident that this event today is the start of a long term success.
Last year we launched a pilot Field Day to mark the growing presence of New Zealand companies in this part of Chile - and local producer interest in our technologies and solutions.
We are now building on that successful event.
Once again, New Zealand companies and their local distribution partners are putting their products before the Chilean marketplace. Since 2007 Agri-tech exports from New Zealand to Chile have increased by 94%.
I invite retailers, distributors and farmers to come and learn more about how our farming technology and systems can be used to increase Chile's on-farm efficiencies.
There will be a programme of technical seminars by the exhibiting companies to complement the demonstrations.
My message today is that New Zealand's agribusiness sector has a lot to offer a successful nation like Chile.
New Zealand - Chile relationship
This event is also a very good example of New Zealand and Chile working together in ways that will make us both stronger.
We have a long-standing, close, and collaborative partnership. I often describe this relationship as one of cousins.
And at the heart of this relationship is the importance of agriculture to both our nations.
I believe that if we can collaborate in our areas of strength, we will both come out stronger. That is why I place such importance on this relationship, and that is why our two governments have undertaken, and are continuing to undertake, a range of initiatives to increase this collaboration.
New Zealand and Chile are constantly striving to make our two nations the most competitive and efficient agricultural producers in the world. We were founding partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and we were both a part of the Global Research Alliance from the outset.
This close relationship is the reason why I'm proud to announce that the successful working holiday scheme for Chileans in New Zealand will now include 60 agricultural trainees from September this year.
This close relationship is why we have updated the agricultural cooperation agenda between our two nations.
And it is this close relationship that has meant that New Zealand sees Chile as a nation to work with, rather than a nation to compete with.
This collaboration is not restricted to just government activity.
I am proud of the fact that New Zealand and Chilean businesses are also investing heavily in our relationship.
New Zealand's agricultural companies have invested over $630 million into Chile since 2007.
New Zealand`s dairy cooperative Fonterra, is involved with Soprole, Chile´s largest dairy company.
Chilterra, a joint New Zealand-Chile farming operation is another important aspect of our business presence here. Chilterra owns approximately 4,500 hectares of dairy land and produces around 15 million litres annually.
I met with Chilterra this morning and while in Chile I will also be meeting companies who are building links between New Zealand and Chile including Manuka and Cooprinsem, who are the biggest importer of New Zealand agri-technology in Chile.
In conclusion, I would like to again welcome you to these Field Days and invite you to check out the impressive showcase of New Zealand agritechnology.
I believe that New Zealand and Chile have a lot to offer each other, and that by working together we will both enjoy the benefits.
I hope you enjoy the day and I look forward to seeing the success of this day grow in the future.