2022 AGMARDT Leadership Scholarships Announcement!

We are pleased to announce that the Board has selected 11 recipients for the 2022 AGMARDT Leadership Scholarship.

It wasn’t easy as we had a record number of applicants, all very high calibre and a good mix of diversity across gender, ethnicity and the value chain.

Happily, we were also able to award more scholarships than usual – a total of $148,000 – as we did not award any last year due to COVID-19.

In making our decision, we have looked for people who are not only talented and have innovative approaches to developing their skills and ideas – but bring a collective mindset to leadership. Leaders who want to have a wide impact are vital to setting up our sector for future success.

Congratulations to all our new scholars and we look forward to watching your journeys unfold.

We present our latest Annual Report

We are pleased to present the AGMARDT Annual Report for 2020/2021,  a significant financial year for us in several key areas.

Firstly, we have seen the resignation of our long-standing and talented General Manager Malcolm Nitschke who we honour in the report. Suffice it to say we are hugely indebted to Malcolm for his leadership over his time and wish him all the best for the next stage of life.

And we are delighted to welcome global marketer Lee-Ann Marsh to the AGMARDT family as our new General Manager. She commenced her role in late August 2021.

Secondly, we have seen a rebound in our investment funds for the financial year ending 30 June 2021, with the Trust Fund at $96.8 million representing an outstanding return of 16.8% for the year – outperforming the strategic asset allocation benchmark of 14.2%. This gives the Trustees confidence to be able to invest both income and capital in the areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact.

Indeed, with our new strategy “igniting a better future for food and fibres in Aotearoa New Zealand’ we are looking to invest in new areas. We want to fund and enable projects that drive collaboration across the industry, look across the value chain and are ambitious and potentially game changing.

The types of projects we want are detailed in the AGMARDT Food & Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand Challenge, a new contestable fund that calls for industry-led proposals in specific areas that we want to invest in. During we launched the first Challenge, awarding two grants. Details can be found in this report.

Overall grants approved for the 2020/21 financial year were $4.35 million, this represented a favourable result from the previous year.

During the year we also engaged the Ākina Foundation to assist in the design of an Impact Strategy and resulting scoring framework. This remains work in progress however, the outcome will deliver valuable insights into the strategic direction of future funding priorities.

And last but definitely not least – in this we showcase some of our fantastic grant recipients, telling the stories of who they are and what they are achieving, from taking engineered socks into the global market and turning wool fibre into filter media to supporting emerging leaders to build their capability through global immersion programme.

Read the report here

Farmer-led project to cut carbon emissions wins AGMARDT Food & Fibres Challenge

A new project that will support farmers to use scientific landscape data to meet carbon and water quality goals has won the AGMARDT Aotearoa New Zealand Food & Fibres Challenge.

The Challenge is a contestable fund from primary sector funder AGMARDT aimed at giving new thinkers with innovative initiatives an opportunity to solve specific priority issues for the sector.

With this second round of the Challenge, AGMARDT invited applications for industry-led initiatives that break new ground in the drive towards a zero-carbon economy.

Thriving Southland, a farmer-led, cross-sector initiative, has been awarded more than $498,000 for its Beyond Regulation project. This will develop and trial a new model for providing farmers with relevant scientific landscape data to inform carbon and water quality solutions, meeting both their own and government sanctioned environmental targets.

“This project is about farmers and the rural community working directly with scientists to make a difference,” says AGMARDT Chair Nick Pyke.

“It’s not only next generation thinking but is being driven by farmers who want to see change from the ground up and at the end will deliver a valuable tool that will benefit rural communities across New Zealand.”

The funding will support a pilot project in Southland’s Matāura River Catchment, delivered as a joint initiative between the rural community, Thriving Southland and local environmental consultancy Land and Water Science.

It will use satellite and airborne data sets to develop a model of landscape properties that highlight variations in greenhouse gas emissions and water quality at catchment, farm and paddock scales. An online portal will also be developed where users can access this information and a training course developed for rural professionals and a support network for land users.

Thriving Southland Chair Jeff Grant says the project is critical for environmental, social, cultural and economic wellbeing of Southland and ultimately all rural communities.

“It’s fantastic to receive funding through The Challenge for this project. Farmers want to see change and they also want to be confident that their decisions and investments will achieve the desired outcomes.

“Our whole focus is on giving farmers landscape knowledge so they look under the bonnet, understand key issues such as where carbon is being emitted, where mitigation is happening and where and how they can make changes that will really make a difference.

“Ultimately it gives farmers another layer of options for meeting their aspirations for an inherently more sustainable and hence resilient rural environment.”

Mr Grant says farmers are part of the project advisory group to ensure information is practically aligned in an easy-to-use format. Farmers should start to see information they can work with coming out in July 2022.

Thriving Southland is a farmer/community-led group funded through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Productive and Sustainable Land Use (PSLU) for their programme working with catchment groups to drive change from the ground-up.


Alice Taylor

021 20785648




The Food and Fibres Challenge Aotearoa New Zealand is designed and led by AGMARDT, an independent, not-for-profit charitable trust with more than 30 years’ experience funding and fostering innovation, research and leadership capability in the food and fibres sector.



AGMARDT seeks sector input


Primary sector funding organisation AGMARDT is partnering with Colmar Brunton in a survey to better understand the opportunities and challenges of the food and fibres sector in New Zealand.

AGMARDT General Manager Lee-Ann Marsh says a core focus of the survey is identifying barriers to innovation.

“Our whole mission at AGMARDT is to support and develop new thinkers, innovative initiatives and emerging leaders who will help shape a positive future for the food and fibres sector.

“We want to better understand what it’s like out there, what is the experience of those considering and seeking funding and what we can do as a funding organisation to enhance our support for innovators and leaders across the sector.”

AGMARDT is inviting both past and prospective funding applicants to participate in the 10-minute survey.

“We’d particularly love to hear from anyone who may be thinking about an idea or innovation or undertaking leadership development but hasn’t applied for AGMARDT funding in the past. Your input will be extremely valuable. We thank you in advance for your time.”

The survey runs between December 2nd 2021 to December 9th 2021. You can complete it here. For every survey completed, AGMARDT will make a small donation to the Rural Support Trust.

Lee-Ann says there will also be a second phase of the project in the New Year, surveying industry influencers who advise and mentor innovators and leaders.