By Jill Armstrong | Posted: Wednesday February 24, 2021
Our first speaker of the day was Kim Reilly, Federated Farmers’ Regional Policy Manager (South Island). Kim told us about her role as Federated Farmers’ Regional Policy Manager (South Island). She studied Law and Economics at University.
Kim explained the structure of Federated Farmers and what their purpose is. Kim is also a member of the Biodiversity Collaboration Group which regularly meets in Wellington to discuss how to care for the native plants and animals and their ecosystems. This group is made up of stakeholders including government departments, tangata whenua, landholders, infrastructure providers and environment groups. Kim has a thorough knowledge of what is happening at the cutting edge of Agribusiness.
Kim discussed some of the challenges NZ farmers face:
· The importance of using niche marketing to promote our unique products.
· The importance of maintaining our water quality.
· The increased competition faced from fake foods and the importance of being able to trace the source of food and other products.
· The importance of investing in science and technology eg. Drones, soil science and realising the impact of every action on the environment.
· The importance of maintaining the high social expectation of agribusiness in New Zealand.
Kim also explained the numerous career opportunities that already exist in New Zealand. There are many jobs that have not yet been created and she reiterated this to the students. Employment opportunities for graduates are excellent as there is a shortage.
Kim told us about some of the exciting research and projects that are currently underway in and around Dunedin. Some of the day-to-day activities Kim undertakes include environmental interests, court mediation processes, media queries, and plans at Council level. Kim has offered to support the students in any way she can including guest speakers, sending latest publications of research, finding experts who can answer any questions and assist the students in their research.
Eleanor Linscott is the Regional Policy Advisor at Federated Farmers and she spoke about her current role which is based around science and grant applications with the Government. Eleanor is involved with a variety of projects in genetics, improving production, soil health, and dung beetle research.
In the afternoon we walked to the University to meet with Ian McGilchrist (a former Kavanagh College staff member) who is currently a Professional Practice Fellow at the University of Otago. Ian presented an overview of the University of Otago and the Agricultural Innovation area. For this degree option, students work towards a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSci) and specialise in either Agritech (technology), Agrienv (environment) or Agribus (business). The degree is focused on quality of food production and sustainability. Science and Commerce based subjects are options within this degree structure. Students asked a series of questions about scholarships, university timetables, workload etc… We then went on a tour of the campus and were fortunate to look inside a couple of hostels. A few of the students seemed keen on the idea of living in a hostel.