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Back to the Future: Harnessing the value of diverse dairy farming enterprises

Executive Summary

For my Kellogg project I wanted to explore how ‘ready’ we are as a sector to capture the potential value of diverse dairy enterprises across different parts of the value chain, everything from farmer or grower to consumer. In Canterbury specifically, we may find ourselves in a position where environmental regulations encourage us to operate with multiple land uses, as individual parcels of land work to reduce their nitrogen leached, water used, and greenhouse gases emitted.

There is also building pressure and urgency around finding pathways to capture opportunities such as: adding more value to non-replacement dairy calves, positioning our New Zealand Food and Fibre products away from commodities and towards products with genuine market differentiation as well as understanding the role plant based proteins will play in New Zealand’s food future. I believe that this provides us with an infinite opportunity to re-imagine not only what we farm or grow, but also how we collaborate across supply chains and how we look to position a unique provenance position in the marketplace.

I chose to interview a combination of start-up and mature businesses across farming, processing and food retail disciplines, aiming to bring together the key themes that will influence our ability to achieve exceptional value from our collective efforts and share it in the most meaningful places across supply chains. I have used a simple reflection technique of: viability, feasibility and desirability to analyse the validity of any recommendations in terms of their ability to provide additional value to a range of stakeholders. My objective is clear – there must be winners and winners, not winners and losers. I have chosen to present my report using a combination of storytelling and academic techniques.

         My key findings were:

  • We are not being honest with ourselves when it comes to the consumer and how rapidly their buying preferences are developing, and letting this guide us. We are not curious, and often apply our own value set to another individual.
  • Losers will be defined by their attitude towards disruption – the pace of change required is faster than ever before and there is an urgency to think differently in order to remain relevant.
  • We are lacking in options for farmers to gain accessibility into horizontal diversification and supply chains. We are applying old thinking to new challenges rather than collaborating across land uses and seeking shared benefit.

    My recommendations are:

     

  • We need to get excited about the consumer and their changing preferences, not spend energy defending why we perceive those preferences to be invalid.
  • We must embrace disruption and not lampoon those who give it a go.
  • We can provide more ‘turn-key packages’ for farm system diversification to enable farmers to pivot.
  • Modelling of future farm systems and connected value in the market can’t be done as an academic exercise; it must be grounded in commercial reality utilising key stakeholders from the outset.

Read the full report:

Back to the Future: Harnessing the value of diverse dairy farming enterprises

Juliette Maitland, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

Connection: What are the social and cultural outcomes of peri-urban catchments?

Executive Summary

This research explores the value of connection to nature and each other. It explores that state of our connection and contrasts connection with rural disconnect (often referred to as the Urban-Rural Divide).

Peri-urban catchments are catchments that pass through or border an urban centre. This report identifies these catchments as having an opportunity to connect a significant amount of people to each other and nature.

The report starts with a literature review of connection in New Zealand. The study looks at two aspects of connection; the benefits of connection and the current state of connection in New Zealand.

The literature review supports that a heightened connection to nature, food, and each other has positive outcomes for wellbeing.

The literature review shows that our current level of connection is difficult to determine. The definition of nature is an individual perception, and this adds another element to the understanding of connection to nature. It can be influenced by a multitude of aspects, the most significant being childhood experiences in nature.

To understand how these learnings can be applied in a peri-urban environment, three case studies have been observed. The case studies were:

• Volcano to Sea Project (Hawick, Auckland)
• Mangakotukutuku Stream Care Group (Peacocke, Hamilton)
• Common Unity Project Aotearoa (Lower Hutt, Wellington)

Empowering and educating a community through action was a significant theme. When people take action for something they care about, it can be powerful for wellbeing. It can also form strong relationships with others taking action. The case studies indicated that the care for nature, food and each other is a substantial cause to bring people together.

It is clear that the Primary Sector Council’s vision, ‘Taiao ora Tangata ora’ aligns and flows through all three of these projects/groups. There is an understanding that for people to be healthy, our natural world needs to be healthy. That our natural world includes nature, food production and ourselves, that we are interconnected with our natural world, this is Te Taiao.

By comparing the themes from both the literature review and the case studies, Peri-urban catchments can impact social and cultural outcomes in two ways:

1. By bringing people together to action environmental initiatives that strengthen our connection with nature, food production, and each other.
In the peri-urban space, we can take the opportunity to connect rural and urban people. Farmland in the peri-urban space has significant opportunity for ecological initiatives, and we can allow our communities to take action to enhance these. By doing this, we can expose people to food production.

2. Establishing biodiversity in peri-urban catchments so that future communities that may live there live entwined with nature and food production.

There is considerable work happening in urban, peri-urban, and rural landscapes to enhance biodiversity. In the peri-urban space, there is an opportunity to get ahead of urban development. Rather than retrospectively restore nature, nature can be established and entwined with urban living. Urban food production needs to part of this planning. Connection with nature and food production in our everyday lives will enhance our wellbeing.

This research has led to the conclusions;

• True collaboration is an outcome of connection.
• Social outcomes are as significant as ecological outcomes.

To ensure social and cultural outcomes in peri-urban communities are positive, I recommend the community groups:

1. Embrace the principles of Te Taiao.

More specifically, community groups vision should incorporate connection to one another and nature. Community groups should identify cultural and natural significance within a catchment. These should be celebrated, restored/protected and used as a cause to bring communities together. Community groups membership should not be limited to a geographical area. Any person or organisation which shares their cause and values should be embraced. This is especially significant in peri-urban spaces. Consider nature to be diverse and embrace food production and consumption as part of nature.

2. Involve youth in action and education.

3. Engage with all community, including local and central government and NGOs.
  
4. Be opened minded and be vulnerable.

To ensure social and cultural outcomes in peri-urban communities are positive, I recommend the City planners and landowners:
5. Plan long term to establish biodiversity ahead of urban development.

Read the full report:
Connection: What are the social and cultural outcomes of peri-urban catchments?

Richard Ridd, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

How might government better understand farmer perspectives?

Executive Summary

The New Zealand public service is and must continue to innovate to ensure that it understands the citizens that it serves.

It could also be doing a more robust job of understanding public perspectives, including those of farmers and rural communities.

Through my research, I have sought to understand how government institutions internationally and locally are innovating and experimenting to better understand these perspectives. The value and promise of these innovations is already being demonstrated.

I have also sought to understand farmer perspectives myself, and what matters to them. Through a range of semi- formal interviews, I captured a variety of themes. Views of government, the realities of farming, Māori agribusiness, communication and engagement and community and the importance of people were expressed.

It is this range of research and insight that has informed my recommendations: three proposed solutions that seek to disrupt the status quo of government engagement with the rural sector.

vRural NZ, Rural EQ and Rural Recruit have all been inspired by the people I have spoken to and ideas explored internationally. My aim has been to not only describe their benefits, but how the benefits could operate in a New Zealand context.

I recommend that government and the rural sector:

  • Prototype vRural NZ through the Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund. This would be led by a government department, who would undertake the role of accountable authority to trial this idea on an issue of relevance and importance to the rural sector;
  • Pilot Rural EQ to trial and test what could work under a more
    full-scale delivery model. This pilot would distinguish what planning, resourcing and co-investment would be required to realise its potential.
  • Commence Rural Recruit through planning and engagement with tertiary institutions, to sell why this proposed solution is needed. This would include identifying which issues facing the rural sector would benefit from Rural Recruit and which agencies graduates would be best placed to join.

Despite the rate of change and challenges facing society, both globally and domestically, there are opportunities to improve the way we collaborate and tackle complex problems.

My recommendations can form the foundation of solutions that address these challenges. They also challenge the public service to innovate and experiment with ideas in the complex environment in which we operate.
If we expect others to change their behaviour, first, we must consider changing our own.

Read the full report: 
How might government better understand farmer perspectives?

Alby Hanson, Kellogg Course 41, 2020