Agritech will play a huge part in New Zealand's agricultural future, reaching everywhere from agricultural exports to logistics, according to a leading Kiwi expert.
Craige Mackenzie is chair of Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ). He says that the industry is being transformed by technology, particularly through precision agriculture.
“Global agritech investment is growing rapidly, with investment in 2014 estimated at over $US2.36 billion making the sector larger than the global fintech market. With our traditional strengths in agriculture and our growing strengths in tech this is an opportunity we should pursue with vigour," he says.
When it's the second-biggest industry sector in New Zealand, agriculture has a bright future, but getting farmers and companies on board will be one of the biggest challenges.
“There is an enormous opportunity for New Zealand to use technology as a means to support the economic growth of our agri sector and to also work with the sector to become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market," he says.
Even though Sapere research shows that while the agricultural sector has relatively low internet usage overall, the Rural Broadband Initiative is also a critical tool for Kiwi farmers, positively influencing everything on the supply chain from pasture to plate.
“For example, online transactions and data transfers between dairy farmers, Fonterra and the Livestock Improvement Corporation reduce transactions costs and improve logistical co-ordination and farm management. There are also opportunities for the application of big data and analytics, particularly as speedy online transfers of data between farmers and suppliers become the norm," Mackenzie explains.
With both central and local government now becoming interested in precision agriculture, Mackenzie says that it's not only the technology but data management that's important.
“We are excited about the development of new precision agriculture software which has integrated affordable satellite images as well as being able to send and receive application files to give proof of placement. The use of such software to store and handle data will continue to be as important as the technology used in the field," he explains.
And now's the time to shine a spotlight and how the agritech sector will grow in New Zealand.
“Next year we are hosting the seventh Asian-Australasian conference on precision agriculture in Hamilton. This will be the first time the event will be held outside of Asia so it will be important to make a success of it. This will be a landmark occasion for our New Zealand industry to showcase the best of what we do," Mackenzie concludes.