Technology transfer in the primary industries could do with a boost according to a Government report.
Technology transfer is the process of transferring knowledge and capability, which enables rural businesses and communities to adapt to change, and create and take advantage of new opportunities.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released the results from a recent survey of technology transfer practitioners working with farmers and growers.
The report’s introduction says technology transfer has enabled farmers and growers to become world leaders in primary production and to adapt during three decades of significant structural change.
But the sector could do with a boost, says MPI, as there are too few professionals and they need to be better linked to help provide a more integrated approach to sharing new knowledge and information.
MPI views technology transfer now as a key ingredient to improving the long-term performance and sustainability of farming, says Richard Lynch, principal adviser in the Policy branch’s Strategy team.
“The technology transfer capability needs to keep pace with the Government’s goals for primary sector economic development and also the requirement to match increasing productivity while working within defined environmental limits.
In addition, MPI identifies the increasing complexity and sophistication of modern farming systems; the typically larger farms employing more staff and the demands of a globalising agro-economy as reasons to ensure there is an effective technology transfer system.
“It is evident from the performance of top farmers that improving farm management skills across all New Zealand farmers would achieve productivity gains – and that’s from using technologies that already exist.”
An MPI economic analysis has indicated that lifting the average performance of pastoral farmers to that of the top 25 percent could be worth $3 billion a year to the economy.
Technology transfer includes introducing new ideas, tools, processes and practices, says Richard Lynch. “It requires professionals who can work closely with farmers and growers to understand their needs and motivations.”
MPI’s mail survey, which got 212 responses, shows there is a range of services available, across all the primary industries.
The equivalent of around 2,100 full-time professionals are working in technology transfer in the primary industries. The biggest single category – around two in five – are professionals employed by commercial firms supplying inputs, such as fertiliser companies or vets. Around one in five are in consultancy businesses and a similar number work for financial or legal firms.