AGMARDT appoints new board chair



Nick Pyke has taken over as Chair of the AGMARDT Board of Trustees.

Mr Pyke, who has been a member of the board for two years, has succeeded Richard Green, who will step down from the board next year after six years as a trustee, the last two as Chair.

Nick Pyke is a founder and director of Ag Innovate Ltd and Leftfield Innovation Ltd and has extensive governance experience with agricultural businesses, farms and industry good organisations. His previous roles have included CEO of the Foundation of Arable Research (FAR) for over 20 years, from its inception.

Prior to that he had a scientific career with MAF, DSIR, HortResearch and Agriculture Canada, working mostly on horticultural crops. He has held positions on several national advisory groups and received a number of awards recognising his contribution to agriculture.

“Richard understands the industry so well and has done a brilliant job,” said Mr Pyke. “I share his passion for the work that AGMARDT does. Our board is strongly focused on aligning with the AGMARDT strategy and on continuing to build the fund so that we can invest more in grants back into improving the food and fibre sector through innovation and developing leadership.”

Mr Green said it had been a great privilege to serve on the board.

“AGMARDT has regularly ‘refreshed its bench’ through bringing in new trustees to ensure diversity of thought and fresh ideas,” he said.

“The recent appointment of our new general manager, Lee-Ann Marsh, was a logical time for me to also decide to step down as chair. I am looking forward to my final few months on the board and to supporting Nick and our fellow trustees in continuing the fantastic work that AGMARDT does.”

Agribusiness in Schools

AGMARDT is a committed partner of the multi-awarding St Paul’s Collegiate School’s Agribusiness in Schools programme exposing thousands of students every year to the skills and opportunities available in the primary sector beyond the farm gate.

St Paul’s initiated the programme in 2014 seeing the need for a formal agribusiness programme at NCEA level; and a vision to take the programme into schools across the country.

St Paul’s, the Ministry of Education, NZQA and the primary industries collaborated to design the programme that prepares the best and brightest students for careers in the primary sector.

Led by the St Paul’s programme team of Kerry Allen, Agribusiness Project Curriculum Director and Melanie Simmons, Agribusiness Advisor, the programme has achieved the vision.

In 2020, St Paul’s along with business partners, AGMARDT, DairyNZ, Beef+LambNZ, Meat Industries Association, Gallagher, Rabobank, NZ National Fieldays Society, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc and Fairview Motors, have made the agribusiness programme available to 97 schools in within New Zealand, reaching a total of 3,055 students in 2020.

“Having AGMARDT on board as a partner from the start, and its ongoing commitment, means we are able to focus our time and energy squarely on getting on with this important work rather than on seeking other sources of funding.” Melanie Simmons, Agribusiness Advisor.

The Ministry of Education has also now deemed agribusiness a subject of national significance, to be developed as a standalone subject separate from business studies where it currently sits in the curriculum.

Melanie and Kerry are both on the Ministry’s NCEA Review of Achievement Standards (RAS) Subject Expert Group for Agribusiness and additionally Kerry is on the Agricultural and Horticultural Science RAS group. The Ministry has also awarded Agribusiness in Schools the contract to be the network of expertise for the new achievement standards, which will be rolled out from 2024.

Getting more teachers to train in teaching agribusiness is a core focus. Melanie has been visiting schools and universities including Lincoln, Massey, and Otago, presenting on the Agribusiness curriculum, the agribusiness standards and encouraging graduates to use their degrees to teach it.

To support teachers, Melanie has also been establishing regional Agribusiness hubs across New Zealand. The hubs will ensure Agribusiness as a subject is self-sustaining with cluster meetings to facilitate support for teachers in the regions, professional development, and help with moderation, fieldtrips, guest speakers and more.

In another significant achievement, in 2020 Agribusiness in Schools was recognised for its outstanding contribution to protecting New Zealand’s environment from pests and diseases. The programme team won the inaugural kura/school award in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, thanks to a new unit of work written to help New Zealand students better understand biosecurity within NCEA Level 3 Agribusiness.

The achievement standard, which has been made available to all New Zealand secondary schools as part of the agribusiness subject, covers the impacts of biosecurity on the primary industry and the types of practices in place, while allowing students to come up with their own innovative future proofi­ng ideas.

“Our desire is now to see that every secondary school in New Zealand will help implement the biosecurity contextualised achievement standard through the new agribusiness subject, improving knowledge right across the country,” Kerry Allen, Agribusiness Project Curriculum Director.

The team have also been developing new resources, including a workbook for Level 2 Agribusiness with the educational publisher ESA and are in the process of writing of the Level 3 Agribusiness workbook.

Work is also being done in collaboration with Seafood NZ and the Meat Industry Association to develop teaching resources on the seafood and meat processing industries.