How to feed 10 billion with agritech advances

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller.

How New Zealand can meet the challenge of feeding some of the predicted global population of 10 billion by 2050, will be a major focus at a Techweek event in Tauranga in May.

World-leading meat, dairy and horticultural industries have established NZ’s reputation as a producer of food. But NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the country’s collaborative agricultural ecosystem is shifting its efforts to developing sustainable ways to feed the world.

“Will the future of food production rely on robots and data, or a global consumer shift toward alternative proteins? These are just some of the agritech issues that are so important for NZ’s economy that will be discussed in Tauranga on May 23.”

Techweek, which is run by NZTech from May 19-27, is a nationwide festival of nearly 300 events in 30-plus centres, to promote NZ tech and innovation to the world and support the growth of our fastest growing and third biggest industry in NZ.

It’s headline event ‘10 Billion Mouths’ on Wednesday, May 23, at ASB Baypark Arena, Tauranga, will be a conversation about how NZ agritech innovators are exploring new ways to feed the world.

Keynote speaker is leading agritech investor and industry speaker Arama Kakutai, who will present on agritech around the world.

Seven generations

Arama’s connection to agriculture in Aotearoa goes back seven generations. On his father’s side, he is of Ngati Maniapoto and Te Aupouri descent, and his family have farmed in NZ for decades. He’s continued in the family line, working for more than 20 years in agribusiness. He served as an executive chairman of PKW Farms, a successful agribusiness and diversified investment entity involved in dairy farming and aquaculture activities in NZ, Asia and Australia. Arama also led the NZ Government’s Trade and Investment agency in North America, following which he emigrated to the US.

In 2005, he and Dr Jerry Caulder co-founded Finistere Ventures, a pioneer in the agriculture and food technology sector. Arama led the creation of Finistere’s global network in agritech which includes offices in Tel Aviv, San Diego and Silicon Valley, and Dublin, Ireland, in partnership with the Irish Strategic Investment Fund. Finistere is one of the leading agritech-focused venture funds, and is partnered with industry leaders including Nutrien, Bayer, Pepsico, Graincorp and International Farming Corporation. Arama serves on the boards as a director or observer of Finistere portfolio companies AgGenetics, Biolumic, Crop Pro Insurance, CropX, Hi Fidelity Genetics, Plenty, Taranis and Zeakal. He’s also an active member of the agritech investing community, investing from Finistere Ventures’ second fund and a regular presenter at leading industry events.

Urgent answers

Other speakers are Robotics Plus founder Alistair Scarfe, Fall Line Capital co-founder Eric O’Brien, Callaghan Innovation’s Agritech Team business innovation advisor Nicky Molloy, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Rod Slater, future of foods strategist, speaker and communications specialist Dr Rosie Bosworth, S2G Ventures chief investment officer Sanjeev Krishnan, globally-recognised food systems innovation expert Sarah Nollet, University of Waikato and Priority One’s innovation manager Shane Stuart, Plus Group founder Steven Saunders; and Lincoln University's The Lincoln Hub CEO Toni Laming.

Graeme says exploding populations, sustainability and increasingly unpredictable climates are some of the problems agriculture is facing globally which require urgent answers.

“Alternatives to traditional food sources and farming methods are revolutionising the way we think about feeding the world,” says Graeme.

“New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high-quality meat and dairy products affords us opportunities as the world’s boutique farmer, which NZ agritech companies are leveraging in all sorts of imaginative and inspiring ways.

“New Zealand’s agritech sector, which adds billions of dollars annually to the gross domestic product, will be showcased on May 23 as part of the massive national Techweek festival this year.”

Major potential

Graeme says NZ’s primary industries are the backbone of the country’s economy and integrating them with technology is the future for a prosperous nation.

“New Zealand agritech, such as herd improvement software, pasture mapping and management are being merged into on-farm practices, maximising increases in productivity and profitability for the benefit of all Kiwis.

“Technology has major potential to support higher productivity and more sustainable use of natural resources in farming. It’s great that government has a technical advisory group to advise the Ministry of Primary Industries on how to accelerate the use of smart agriculture technology.

“Reigniting primary productivity in the rural sector is critical for both farmer profitability and NZ’s global competitiveness. Digital agriculture, in the form of precision farming, big data, sensor technology, robotics and drones, delivers a new potential for productivity gains across rural NZ,” says Graeme.

Techweek’s headline event ‘10 Billion Mouths’ is on Wednesday, May 23, from 8am-6.30pm at ASB Baypark Arena, Tauranga. To purchase tickets, see:


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