Ag Graduates’ Innovation Key to Industry’s Future
New Zealand, Friday 26 October 2018 - New Zealand’s agricultural graduates need to back themselves and the sector needs to welcome their insights in order to navigate the changing demands of farming, according to Massey agricultural alumni award winner, Bridgit Hawkins from Regen NZ.
Bridgit Hawkins spoke to over 250 graduates, industry partners, and educators at Massey University’s 25th Agricultural Awards Dinner, held in Palmerston North on Friday evening, before herself receiving The Massey Agriculture Alumni Achievement Award in her role as founder and Chief Executive of New Zealand agritech company Regen.
Raised on a Reporoa sheep and beef farm, Ms Hawkins completed a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science in 1989. Now a leader in Agricultural technology, Regen provides technology for solutions for farmers to manage effluent and irrigation, taking the guesswork out of farming and reducing their impact on the environment.
During her time in agriculture, Ms Hawkins has experienced significant transformation but believes even greater change is needed to keep up with and meet, future industry demands.
“In a very short space of time the sector is going to need to adapt to meet consumer demand, increasingly our younger generations are expecting more, especially from food producers
“Farmers need to manage the day-to-day business of farming and deal with an ever growing list of complex issues - environment, health and safety, climate change, good management practices, alternative proteins, and globalisation.
Bridgit Hawkins believes university graduates will play an important role in helping the agricultural industry evolve.
“Our next generation of farmers have a significant opportunity to assist and influence decisions that will enable farmers to adapt more easily to the ‘new way’ of thinking. Current leaders in our industry need to embrace the innovation our graduates can offer, and use their expertise to really understand what consumers want.
“Ultimately we want to empower our graduates to be respectful of experience, but confident and ready to offer an opinion when asked.
Head of the School of Agriculture and Environment Professor Peter Kemp says learning from speakers like Ms Hawkins is vital to their development.
“We are preparing industry-ready graduates for the primary industries, and part of that mission is keeping them connected to those industries throughout their degrees. At Massey we are always keen to hear what the industry has to say and how they view the upcoming opportunities and challenges to inform both our teaching and research.
As the head of a growing Agritech company, the ideas Bridgit expressed were both challenging and insightful, which is exactly the kind of thinking we want to expose our students to,” says Peter Kemp, Head of the School of Agriculture and Environment Professor.