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World’s first NZ Inc. farm in the high tropics

31 October 2014

World’s first NZ Inc. farm in the high tropics, higher than the Remarkables

Waikato farm development organisation Dairy Solutionz (NZ) Ltd. will open the first ever New Zealand-technology demonstration dairy farm in the high tropics – 2800m above sea level – next month.

After a year of development, Corpoica’s 117ha, 300-cow demonstration dairy farm is milking the first of its herd in the Narino region in the south of Colombia.

At that altitude close to the equator, the weather is very similar to the Waikato, rye grass and clover flourish, says Dairy Solutionz chief executive Derek Fairweather.

The $2m development was funded by the Colombian government and Corpoica, the equivalent to AgResearch in New Zealand.

The demonstration farm, which uses entirely New Zealand design and technology, employs Dairy Solutionz Kiwi farm manager Paul Gibson, and directly benefits 14 New Zealand businesses through exports and establishing proof of profitability will lead to more technology exports because they create value for Colombian farmers.

Fairweather says the development is part of an answer to the issue of global food security.

“Securing enough food to nourish growing populations around the world is one of the top priorities for many governments, and we believe one of the answers to the food security issue is harnessing the untapped benefits of the world’s tropical environments.

“It just so happens New Zealand cows and pasture thrive in the high tropics. We’re using Kiwi ingenuity to take tropical land and create rich food bowls which will benefit previously poor economies.”

New Zealand companies involved in supplying the project are Leask Engineering, Read Industrial, Gallagher, TruTest Milkhub, TruTest DTS, Jobe Valves, Iplex Pipelines, LIC, Aghub, Shoof International, McKee Plastics, Harvest Electronics, Numedic and Dairy & Beef Solutionz Latam.

In the Narino region of Colombia, about 40 per cent of GDP currently comes from the dairy industry and about 400,000 families nationwide rely on the dairy industry for their livelihoods.

However, European free trade deals pose a major threat to the local dairy sector which will find it hard to compete with imported product once the current 33 per cent tariffs are lifted over the next 10 years.

The $4m in New Zealand Aid Programme funds, initiated by Dairy Solutionz is likely to be used to transfer technology and upskill rural professionals and farmers in Colombia.

Mr Fairweather said the development in Narino, Colombia will work towards helping local farmers and industry to become globally competitive.

“This will ensure there are major downstream benefits in terms of reducing poverty in the region and improving the local population’s health and welfare status,” he said.

“For the farmers we are working with in Colombia, dairying is how they support their families.

“But their livelihood is under threat by globalisation and free trade. Working with the Government of Colombia, this demonstration farm is a tangible message of hope and sets a clear pathway as to how they can be competitive.

“By transferring Kiwi technology into their local dairy economy, we are literally providing an economic lifeline to one of the most important yet impoverished dairy regions in Colombia.”

Dairy Solutionz is also active in Pakistan, Ecuador and America and currently has more than $20m of tropical builds, and a similar value of tropical projects under development in the near future.

“At Dairy Solutionz we see our role as adapting New Zealand’s dairying expertise on a global scale and to help Colombia, and other similar nations, to be competitive in a fast-changing, competitive international food market,” said Mr Fairweather.

The next phase of the project will be to settle the conversion and establish the governance and stewardship of the farms in a very similar manner to the highly successful Lincoln Dairy farm and SIDDC partnership.

Corpoica chief executive Juan Lucas Restrepo is certain the farm will be the catalyst for a step change in the competiveness of the region.

“We recognise New Zealand leadership in dairy technologies, breeding, pasture species and pasture management systems, and we need to prove that here, and we look forward to and invite the partnership with New Zealand companies in supporting and adapting their intellectual property to the Colombian context.

“From experience to date, we all have something to learn and we have great potential to realise between our two countries.”

Obonuco dairy demonstration farm specifications
The Obonuco Dairy Project is located at an altitude of 2800m in the department (region) of Nariño which is located in the South of Colombia, in the Equatorial zone, on the border with Ecuador.

• Area: 117 Hectares
• Stocking rate reached: 3.5 cows/ha. 300 cows.
• Rotational grazing reached: 25 day
• Sub-division: 55 paddocks – Approx.1.6 ha each.
• Cropping area reached: 5 paddocks/cropping-silage or research programme

More about Derek Fairweather
Derek is the CEO of Dairy (&Beef) Solutionz (NZ) Ltd. Derek was the Chief Executive Officer of Waikato Innovation Park Ltd in Hamilton, New Zealand, from 2003 to 2012 and had accountability for all aspects of the Waikato Innovation Park.

Derek has led a number of key initiatives for Waikato Innovation Park including Integrated Farm Management, facilitating the Ag Bio NZ Cluster and establishment of FoodWaikato, New Zealand’s only independent product development powder drying factory.

Prior to his role at Waikato Innovation Park, Derek was a specialist in asset management at Ernst & Young.

More about Dairy Solutionz Ltd.
DairySolutionz Ltd. operates with DairySolutionz and BeefSolutionz brands in the global industries of dairy and beef.

The business operated from 2005 within Innovation Waikato Ltd and legally separated as Dairy Solutionz (NZ) Ltd (DSL) in 2009 and is headquartered in Hamilton New Zealand.

The core objective of DSL is developing sustainable, sensible and profitable agribusinesses. DSL will also support those regions to become self-sufficient and provide major downstream benefits in reducing poverty and improving health and welfare.

DSL has a subsidiary in Colombia, Dairy & Beef Solutionz Latam. The local partner is private equity firm Promision.

DSL’s vision statement
The developer/manager/owner of a global portfolio of farming and processing assets, producing large animal derived protein, at a globally competitive cost of production, closest to the communities and markets that need those proteins the most.

To build pasture based dairy and beef supply systems that have sustainable competitive advantage in the dairy and beef sector, in the tropics.

Global operation
DSL and BSL have global expertise in ‘pasture plus’ based on farming systems from Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.

The team is also active in Pakistan, Africa and is also developing, with emerging opportunities in Central America. Moreover, DSL and BSL have deep insight into the dynamics of national and international dairy and beef markets and trade.

DSL has extensive experience in developing protocols and regulatory frameworks for market access and importation specifically for semen, embryos and live cattle shipments to both Colombia and Ecuador.

DSL has also been successful in developing protocols to allow the importation of grass seeds and stolons (vegetative sprigs) from the USA to Colombia.

It is anticipated that many of these products will also be required in other tropical regions and therefore these protocols can be refined to suit other nations.


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