Maori company teams up with Crown to breed unique berries for global markets

A joint venture company has been established to breed and develop new unique berry varieties to be marketed exclusively by a Māori-owned firm, Miro Limited Partnership (Miro).

Government-owned Plant & Food Research and Miro signed a 50:50 joint venture agreement today at an event hosted by Ngati Haua at the iwi’s Rukumoana Marae in Morrinsville.

The agreement provides the new company with access to Plant & Food Research berry genetics for the development of proprietary new varieties. The joint venture partners will create a breeding programme for new high-value berry varieties.

Miro will grow, market and sell the berries in New Zealand and globally with support from BerryCo NZ Limited.

The joint venture is a milestone in horticultural entrepreneur Steve Saunders’ vision for Miro, to create a step-change in both the New Zealand berry industry and the regional Māori economy for current and future generations.

Miro chair Rukumoana Schaafhausen said Miro is owned by over 20 Māori trusts, iwi and entities from the top of the north to the top of the South Island, from the East Coast to Taranaki.

“We came together because we wanted jobs for our people, higher returns on our land, and to own IP and a global business that would secure a future for our mokopuna. We’re so excited about the opportunities ahead of us and we would love for more Māori landowners to join in.

“In simple terms, Miro is aiming to build a business every bit as successful as Zespri. It represents a high-value, market-led, vertically integrated berry export business. There’s no reason why berries can’t be the next billion dollar New Zealand horticulture industry, and we’re proud to partner with Plant & Food Research to create that future.”

Plant & Food Research chief executive David Hughes says the joint venture is aligned with the science company’s mandate to use research innovation to add value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products and their industries.

“In Miro we have a partner with global ambitions matched by scale and capability in New Zealand,” said David Hughes.

He expects the deal to open up fresh innovation challenges for the Crown research institute’s scientists and described it as a welcome addition to its diverse range of commercial activity.

Source: Plant & Food Research.

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New partnership to drive innovation in perennial fruits

Agtech solutions company Autogrow and Plant & Food Research have signed a Memorandum of Understanding confirming their intention to collaborate in the development of protocols to maximise yield and enable continuous production of perennial fruits.

The agreement was signed in Auckland by Autogrow chief executive Darryn Keiller and Dr Kieran Elborough, General Manager Science – New Cultivar Innovation for Plant & Food Research.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Plant & Food Research and see collaborations like this as fundamental to furthering our industry, ultimately benefiting both growers and consumers,” said Mr Keiller.

“Plant & Food Research are responsible for some of the best cultivars to come on to the global market and their science expertise combined with our knowledge of controlled environment agriculture will take perennial fruits to the next level.”

Autogrow’s Director of Plant Science and Agronomy, Dr Tharindu Weeraratne, will head Autogrow’s team as part of the arrangement.

Speaking at the signing, Dr Elborough said working with a global company like Autogrow had the potential for Plant & Food Research to match new breeding strategies with future growing systems that deal with numerous horticultural challenges such as climate change, sustainable food production and reducing land availability.

Source: Plant & Food Research.

Prime Minister of Vietnam visits Plant & Food Research

His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Prime Minister of Vietnam, visited Plant & Food Research’s Mt Albert Research Centre today as part of a Head of State visit to New Zealand.

During the visit, the Prime Minister was witness to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Provincial Peoples Committee of Dak Nong province in Vietnam, the New Zealand Government (through G2G Partnerships), Vietnamese company SAM Agritech and Plant & Food Research to investigate ways to support the development of the avocado industry in Dak Nong.

Source: Plant & Food Research

Work to begin in Manawatū on cutting-edge food research facility

A new food research facility has reached an important milestone, with a contractor appointed and the construction process to start this week.

The $45 million AgResearch and Massey University Food Science Facility, on the university’s Manawatū campus, will accommodate about 140 staff and students from the two organisations as well as from the Government-funded centre of research excellence, the Riddet Institute.

It will feature laboratories and shared spaces focused around education and research into meat and dairy in a three-storey, 5000 square metre building that will be New Zealand’s largest agri-food innovation centre.

The facility will also be a key component of FoodHQ – a partnership to grow New Zealand’s reputation in food and beverage innovation that includes AgResearch and Massey University among its network of science and innovation partners (more at www.foodhq.com).

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson says work to prepare the site for building is due to begin after Waitangi Day.

The plan is to have the building completed by October 2019.

“The occupants will include AgResearch staff already based in Palmerston North, and others working in the food sciences who will be relocating to the city,” Dr Richardson says.

“This new joint facility concept – similar to what AgResearch is doing with Lincoln University near Christchurch – is going to accelerate innovation by having world-class talent working together under one roof. In the case of food research, it means the opportunity for new generation products that offer exciting new textures and flavours, and improve peoples’ health and nutrition.”

Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the facility is another exciting development for the university and its Manawatū campus, and integral to Massey’s collaborations with research institutions and other organisations and businesses involved in growing New Zealand’s food exports and reputation for quality and innovation.

New one-year appointments to three CRI Boards announced

Five appointments have been made to three of the Government’s seven Crown Research Institutes.

The appointments are to the Boards of The Institute of Environmental Science Research (ESR), The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS Science), and the New Zealand Forest Research Institute (Scion).

Professor Cris Print from Auckland University and Dr Andy Shenk, Chief Executive of Auckland Uniservices, the commercial arm of Auckland University have been appointed to the ESR Board. Professor Print is a specialist in human genomics and bioinformatics and Dr Shenk has extensive experience in the commercialisation of science and research.

Northland-based professional director Paul White has been appointed to the GNS Board. He sits on the Top Energy Board and several iwi-based trusts.

Greg Mann, General Manager of Arbogen Australasia, has been appointed to the Scion Board alongside previous Plant & Food Board Member Stana Pezic, who has extensive Chief Financial Officer experience.

All of the appointments are a for a term of one year.

Ground is broken on new ag-science development at Lincoln

The start of a joint $200 million development between Lincoln University and AgResearch demonstrates a strong commitment to agricultural research and teaching in Canterbury, Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held today for the five-building facility at Lincoln to house around 700 staff from Lincoln University, AgResearch and Dairy NZ.

“Students want to study in the best facilities and learn from the best. The environment around them makes a big difference both to their experience of studying, and to choosing to go there in the first place,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“This investment from the Government, Lincoln University and AgResearch allows both institutions to deliver that quality experience for not only students, but teachers, and researchers as well.

“With the closer linking of research and teaching and scientific disciplines, students can be immersed in the very best agricultural science.”

The new facility is a significant physical and financial undertaking, with a total floor area of 27,000 square metres, or nearly three hectares.

Both Lincoln University and AgResearch’s facilities were damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes and the Government was keen to see a new joint facility between the two to increase research collaboration.

“This is a stake in the ground for the future of agricultural research in New Zealand and will mean new ways of working and learning for everyone involved,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“Removing the barriers between university and industry researchers and introducing the best new facilities will be key for attracting the best staff and students for years to come.”

The Government is contributing $85 million to Lincoln University for the project, with the rest coming from AgResearch and Lincoln.

The new buildings will be a key part of the Lincoln Hub – a specialist land-based innovation cluster in partnership with Lincoln University, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Landcare Research and DairyNZ

Minister announces 18 appointments to CRI and REANNZ boards

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has announced several appointments, and reappointments to the boards of six Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and Research & Education Advanced Network New Zealand Ltd (REANNZ).

Among the appointments are Kate Wilkinson, a former National Party MP and Cabinet minister who retired from national politics in November 2014. In May the following year she was appointed Commissioner of the Environment Court.

Goldsmith announced 12 reappointments, including several promotions, to the boards of AgResearch, the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (GNS Science), Landcare Research, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA), New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd (Scion), New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research and Research and REANNZ.

Six new appointments were Colin Armer, Jackie Lloyd, and Kim Wallace to the board of AgResearch and Ngarimu Blair, John Rodwell and Hon Kate Wilkinson to Landcare Research.

“Crown Research Institutes generate tangible benefits for New Zealand by facilitating excellent research that generates ideas and innovations for our industries, promotes evidence that contributes to high-quality decision making, and seeks answers to many of our national challenges,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“REANNZ contributes to the success of New Zealand’s research and education sector, providing the infrastructure that enables growth in data-intensive research.

“These reappointments are a testimony to the strong leadership, commitment, and contribution these members have made to New Zealand’s science system. I welcome the valuable knowledge and experience these appointees bring to these boards,” Mr Goldsmith says.

Southland farmer and former Member of Parliament, Jeff Grant, the new chair of the AgResearch Board, has been the CRI’s deputy chair since 2016.

More information about the appointments can be found HERE.