Food & Fibres Challenge seeks new thinking on de-carbonisation

With over $600,000 allocated to innovative research projects tackling big challenges for the primary sector, the Food & Fibres Challenge is now seeking applications for new initiatives to drive zero-carbon.

The Food & Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand Challenge (The Challenge) is a new contestable fund from AGMARDT (the Agriculture and Marketing Research and Development Trust) aimed at giving New Zealand’s ‘on-edge’ creative thinkers an opportunity to solve specific priority challenges facing the sector.

AGMARDT has announced two winners for the first round, which sought innovative industry-led projects to help accelerate on-farm de-carbonisation, minimise waste and provide solutions to improve land use and catchment management.

Methane Mitigation Ventures Ltd (MMV) receives $348,291 to support development of a practical diagnostic tool that can be used to demonstrate successful methane reduction in ruminants treated with natural anti-methane feed supplements.

Pearl Pastures Limited received $325,000 to further develop its business model working with farmers and the dairy industry to provide customers with exceptional ethically produced grass and milk fed ‘pearl’ veal.

“Both these projects bring fresh, creative thinking to turn challenges for farmers and the wider industry into potentially big opportunities,” says AGMARDT Chairman Richard Green.

“They’re commercially sound and collaborative initiatives that will benefit the whole value chain and help accelerate the change we need to see for a better future for food and fibres and ultimately for Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Director of Pearl Pastures Alan McDermott says the funding will allow them to accelerate market and customer development together with new products from this new category for New Zealand’s meat and dairy sectors.

“It is very exciting for us to be able to focus on our project and work with farmers, other potential partners and customers with greater confidence. We believe surplus dairy calves provide what can be a profitable opportunity for dairy and livestock farmers that offers diversification and a host of environmental and welfare benefits.”

Tom Sturgess, Director of MMV says the funding will support research on two natural products, Asparagopsis and Mootral™.

“We believe these products are good candidates to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. A key focus is on practical ways to feed these products successfully to animals on pasture, but we need to know that the products are working. Thus, development of a diagnostic is an important part of the whole project.”

The second round of The Challenge, opens for Expressions of Interest from 14 May, seeks industry-led projects that will revolutionise the carbon challenge and achieve zero-carbon outcomes throughout the food and fibres value chain.

“This is an opportunity for New Zealanders who think outside to progress their ideas. We’re looking for innovative and industry-led projects that will change business as usual to have a real and rapid impact on New Zealand’s ability to meet our zero-carbon commitments domestically and globally.”

The Challenge is a contestable fund open to applications for AGMARDT funding from $200,000 up to $500,000 (incl. of GST*).

Applications follow a two-stage process with initial Expressions of Interest opening from 14 May and closing 30 June 2021. Finalists will be notified by 23 July 2021 and then invited to complete a full funding application with winners expected to be announced in September 2021.

Meanwhile, Mr Green says three further projects were identified through the first Challenge process that have been transferred to other AGMARDT funding streams, worth a total of $470,000.

“While The Challenge is about stimulating and supporting Kiwis who think outside the square and giving them an opportunity to progress their ideas, other projects with real merit for AGMARDT’s wider funding channels haven’t gone unnoticed.”

These projects are Big Wool Ltd, $170,000 for work to develop NZ Strong Wool; DairyNZ Ltd, $100,000 to support Dynamic ‘N’ Modelling from Farm to Catchment and Greenlea Premier Meats Ltd, $200,000 for its Restore Wholefoods bone broth.

To apply for Food & Fibres Challenge visit the AGMARDT website.

Richard Green, Chairman
06 323 8766

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.