So how do we stay confident about farming? How do we sell less for more?
Provocations 13 - 16
13. Farming practices which will save the planet.
Future consumers will not only want their food produced cleanly, they’ll want to feel the planet is being saved in the process. They’ll seek evidence that farming practices are going further than not causing harm to the environment but are actually adding to the quality. We’ve a long way to go before this is a reality.
Farmers will have to verify sustainability as part of their license to farm.
While there are farmers today who are excelling in the environmental space, many are still being dragged kicking and screaming to participate. Soon farmers will be required to verify and report on sustainability practices as part of their license to farm and also a ticket to supply. Point of origin preference will be directly connected to certification of behaviours and land management. It should be noted that this additional effort may not command a premium but rather be the basic expectation and the new norm for consumers within 20 years.
How might we set up a nationwide certification program and farm for market standards going into the future?
14. Can we make our farmers better businessmen?
To be a good farmer these days is more than just good budgeting or knowing how to read a set of accounts. The majority of farming businesses still have a short-term outlook, bouncing from one season to another, rather than setting a long-term vision and planning activities.
Education is needed to meet the needs of future consumers.
It’s a frustration to see near-sightedness, leaving farmers to the marketplace and short-term volatility, rather than empowering themselves and strategizing to manage all market movements well. Farmers need to start getting educated now, to meet the needs of the future consumer. Science-based farming will need to encompass the physical and financial sides of the farming operation: they are inseparable. There needs to be a significant leap in business capability closing this current void in the running of a modern farm.
How might we encourage the farmers to become better businessman?
15. Collaboration versus Clobberation.
Nothing new in the primary industry it’s been talked about for years, but most of us have no idea what orderly free enterprise is about. There needs to be an immediate change of much activity to limit the missed opportunities through the lack of collaboration. The duplication of processes from production through to marketing and distribution is an indictment of the lack of leadership in the industry which has delivered significant inefficiencies at enormous cost down through the years.
It's time to come to our senses.
The new generation understand collaboration better and if nothing is done soon we will frustrate them and likely lead them to exit the industry. Primary industry leaders of the future need to understand this is a major mandate and if they fail they should stand aside. There needs to become a driving social need to collaborate, connect and work closely with all parts of the industry towards a single sustainable agenda. The great clobbering machine of New Zealand’s agribusiness has been adversarial for well over 100 years. Surely it’s time to come to our senses?
How might we set up new structures and strategies to create value chains which collaborate as opposed to supply chains who compete with each other?
16. Why is New Zealand’s R&D spend so low compared to other countries?
New Zealand spends around 1.26% of GDP on R&D. Scandinavian countries are double this. Israel is 1/10 the size of New Zealand and spends three times our number. There’s a lot of initiatives going on. However, it’s not easy to apply for support from the government.
Not many collaborative R&D programmes in the primary sector.
The complexity of applications and the time required to access the funding is a common complaint. It seems that a lot of R&D programs are currently seeking to find similar knowledge. There are not many truly collaborative R&D programs in the primary sector, rather more token ones demonstrating the fact. Certainly, there are no cross-sector collaborations setting out to adopt new technology for mutual benefit.
How might we better increase our R&D spend in the primary sector and ensure its connected to market opportunities?