The Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) has been delivering New Zealand AgriFood Week (NZAFW) since 2016. The week-long series of events, forums, and thought-provoking discussions sits at the intersection of agriculture, science, and technology. The events are held in and around Palmerston North city and the Manawatū region – New Zealand’s epicentre of agrifood innovation.
Locally, the Week has been well-known as a regional initiative to promote innovation and the future of agrifood. Looking ahead, it is time to expand the event’s purpose and reach.
Why have we developed a three-year strategy for New Zealand AgriFood Week?
In 2019, we asked ourselves how we could better position and evolve NZAFW – the flagship event for our large and diverse agrifood and agritech industry – to grow our strength as an agrifood hub. We conducted interviews, explorations, analysis, and a competitive audit to draw out a foundational three-year strategy and roadmap.
What have we learnt?
As a community of stakeholders, we need to keep learning and developing, particularly through gathering insights from successful event organisers in other industries, as well as keeping abreast of the trends and themes within the agrifood sector. But two key themes emerged from our research that I encourage our community to discuss.
Manawatū has the ingredients for success as a top-three global agrifood hub, which will reposition New Zealand from being an agricultural producer of commodity items to one of a food nation, delivering innovative, value-added products, technology, and IP to the world. This is because Manawatū is:
Over the past decade, New Zealanders have become critical of our once-lauded primary sector. This view has evolved from a growing awareness of climate change, land and water conservation, resource depletion, and animal welfare issues, combined with a growing disconnection between rural and urban New Zealand.
However, the seeds for a positive shift in this rhetoric have already been sown – through future-focussed agribusiness innovators, agri-preneurs, and other food and farming innovation success stories. NZAFW is well-placed to provide strategic momentum to this shift by bringing producers, politicians, business owners, scientists, industry and future talent, and consumers together to showcase and celebrate the innovations and advancements made within the industry, all with a focus on the future.
We are uniquely well-placed to remind all New Zealanders that the spirit of kaitiakitanga – of guardianship of the sky, the sea, and the land – is inherent in every farmer’s and producer’s desire to protect our land and water for future generations. To attract the next generation of farmers, scientists, and innovators, we must actively fuel the positive momentum stemming from our many success stories of agrifood innovation.
A clearer purpose for New Zealand AgriFood Week: Focusing on tomorrow’s challenges and celebrating today’s successes
To realise these twin opportunities, CEDA is evolving NZAFW to be ‘centre stage’ – nationally and globally. We are also positioning the event at the intersection of agriculture, science, food, and technology to strategically differentiate NZAFW from competing or related events.
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