Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Agri-tech sector to pioneer govt transformation strategy

Agri-tech sector to pioneer govt industry transformation strategy

By Pattrick Smellie

July 2 (BusinessDesk) - Agricultural technology should be one of New Zealand's leading sources of high-value jobs, exports and improved farming practice, but has failed to grow much in the last decade, prompting the government to make it the focus of the first of four new industry sector transformation plans.

In what was probably his last public act as Economic Development Minister before handing the portfolio to Phil Twyford after last week's Cabinet reshuffle, Parker released both a general guide to the industry transformation plan concept and a draft ITP for the agri-tech sector this morning.

The other sectors targeted for such plans are food and beverages, digital technology, and forestry and wood processing.

"Agri-tech exports are estimated at around $1.5 billion annually," the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says in an overview of the ITP strategy. "However, exports have been flat for a decade and the uptake of this technology across the primary sector and related manufacturing sectors has been low."

The reports released today note that the export figures measure only exports of agri-tech goods rather than including services exports.

"The sector lacks a coordinated supporting ecosystem and has weak international linkages", which was "inhibiting New Zealand's ability to maximise significant export opportunities."

Accordingly, a draft agri-tech sector would seek to enable more sustainable production, increase exports, and drive innovation and uptake of agri-tech "across the primary sector and related manufacturing sectors".

While New Zealand was a trusted source of high-quality food for international consumption, the agri-tech sector suffers from a variety of factors that have tended to hamper its growth, according to the draft plan authored by David Downs, a general manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise who has been leading a cross-agency agri-tech taskforce since February.

These include the fact that not many other countries' primary sectors are based on pastoral farming, making much of New Zealand's agri-tech innovation irrelevant or difficult to adapt in export markets. New Zealand farmers were also slow to adopt new agri-tech systems and while research and development funding for the primary industries was substantial, the totals being devoted to agri-tech were relatively small.

This resulted in "a lessened amount of IP (intellectual property) ready for commercialisation".

The "lack of a signal from government through policy and other mechanisms about the importance of the sector to New Zealand" was also a factor. The industry had only recently formed an industry representative group and existing research activity was more fragmented than it might be.

Complacency was also an issue.

"There appears to be a common perception among the wider New Zealand population that we are already a world leader in agri-tech. This is an assumption that is not borne out by the evidence," the report says, citing Ireland, Israel, Singapore and the Netherlands as global leaders in the sector, in part because all had faced resource constraints or crises that had motivated action.

The draft plan proposes a vision for an agri-tech sector that is "globally competitive, vibrant" and "producing capable, ingenious value-adding companies that are good for the world, solve New Zealand and the world's sustainable problems (environmental, social, economic and cultural)".

The use of companies as a unit of measurement was vital. "The economy will grow as the result of growing individual and groups of companies," the report says. "The interventions and actions need to ultimately have impact for companies."

Pursuing value-adding technologies was also an important element of the country's response to rising protectionism, which could impair markets for commodities, but which high-value food and agri-tech processes could circumvent because of their foundation in value rather than volume.

Additional research on export market opportunities and potentially "looking again at the science system" to check its alignment to sector needs were also likely.

Parker said the plan would now be subject to consultation with a view to implementation in 2020.

(BusinessDesk)


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Stats NZ: Consents For New Homes At All-Time High

A record 41,028 new homes have been consented in the year ended March 2021, Stats NZ said today. The previous record for the annual number of new homes consented was 40,025 in the year ended February 1974. “Within 10 years the number of new homes ... More>>

Stats NZ: Unemployment Declines As Underutilisation Rises

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.7 percent in the March 2021 quarter, continuing to fall from its recent peak of 5.2 percent in the September 2020 quarter but remaining high compared with recent years, Stats NZ said today. ... More>>

ALSO:

Digitl: The Story Behind Vodafone’s FibreX Court Ruling

Vodafone’s FibreX service was in the news this week. What is the story behind the Fair Trading Act court case? More>>

Reserve Bank: Concerned About New Zealand's Rising House Prices

New Zealand house prices have risen significantly in the past 12 months. This has raised concerns at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Putea Matua about the risk this poses to financial stability. Central banks responded swiftly to the global ... More>>

Westpac: Announces Strong Financial Result

Westpac New Zealand (Westpac NZ) [i] says a strong half-year financial result has been driven by better than expected economic conditions. Chief Executive David McLean said while the global COVID-19 pandemic was far from over, the financial effect on ... More>>

MYOB: SME Confidence In Economic Performance Still Cautious

New insights from the annual MYOB Business Monitor have shown the SME sector is still cautious about the potential for further economic recovery, with two-in-five (41%) expecting the New Zealand economy to decline this year. The latest research ... More>>