Agribusiness Professor to speak in Tauranga

8 January 2013

Jaqueline Rowarth

Agribusiness expert: Professor Jacqueline will be dicussing the options for New Zealand's primary industry at the University's Coastal Economic Symposium.

The Bay of Plenty’s climate and natural resources offer excellent opportunities for business diversity but in order to drive economic growth in the region, an agribusiness expert from Waikato University wants to see more money put into research, more top scholars getting into primary industries and more good news stories about the innovations and achievements taking place in the rural sector.

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth will give the keynote address at the University’s Coastal Economic Symposium being held in Tauranga on 25 January. She will discuss the options for New Zealand to continue generating growth by leveraging off its soil, water and fisheries resources, while ensuring their long-term sustainability.

Increase funding for research and development

She says recommendations in the Green Growth report (released November 2012) to increase funding for research and development and to raise the profile of New Zealand internationally were spot on, but she would also like to see more positive promotion happening within the country.

“People need to hear about the great things going on in our primary sector and the great people who work there. We need to give people the evidence that demonstrates the innovations and excellent achievements being made.”

Encouraging people to come back

Increasing fuel, production and compliance costs as well as coping with changeable climatic conditions have created an uncertain environment for farmers and have led many people towards other career pathways. Professor Rowarth wants to encourage people back.

“All the indicators show New Zealand is well placed to develop its primary sector and there is definitely enormous potential but we need highly motivated, top achieving people – we mustn’t sell the industry short.”

More understanding of the rural sector

More public education about how the sector operates is also needed because, despite people saying they are spending more at the supermarket, Professor Rowarth says food is not getting more expensive as a proportion of household income. “People forget that average salaries are increasing all the time, and we’re buying more prepared food and a wider variety of exotic and out of season foods.

“There is an expectation that requirements around sustainable practice and compliance will be met by the industry. Costs to farmers have doubled during the decade, and money to invest in the farm has been eroded. People expect to get cheap food yet they demand good practice, which requires on-farm investment in new technologies, and that requires profit.”

Underpinning this, she says, is the need for a lot more work in research and development to bring us in line with the OECD average, and to create a liberating environment for good ideas and innovation.

Coastal Economic Symposium

The Coastal Economic Symposium, Treasuring the Bay, Whakamana te taonga o te Moana a Toi, is an opportunity for the community to engage with experts about research and economic developments taking place in the Bay of Plenty as well as looking at the issues we face. It will be held on Friday 25 January from 9.00-3.00pm at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s Bongard Centre in Cameron Road. Other speakers will include biofuels expert Professor Rocky de Nys from James Cook University in Australia and the University of Waikato’s Economics Chairperson Dr Dan Marsh and Chair in Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill. This is a free public event, but bookings are essential for seating and catering purposes. For further information and to register, please contact Nyree Sherlock, [email protected]

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