Wanganui Chronicle

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

THIS year's Central Districts' Field Days held at Manfeild Park from Thursday until Saturday of last week were a fantastic showcase of all things rural with a particular focus on agribusiness and education and some outstanding lifestyle exhibits, too.

All in all, it was a very impressive show the best over recent years, I believe with such a good feeling out there.

And it was especially reassuring to see so many young people. From students in school uniform accompanied by their teachers as well as university, Agriculture ITO and Primary ITO students, through to young children accompanied by their parents it was reassuring to see so many young New Zealanders excited about agribusiness. There was a real emphasis on youth in agriculture and how to inspire and involve our young people and encourage them to pursue careers in this exciting, innovative and extremely hightech sector.

Along with a number of schools who seized the opportunity to showcase their facilities and in particular their agricultural curriculum, Massey University also had a significant presence. They had a number of displays demonstrating the research and innovation areas of the university as well as recruitment staff who were there to discuss agriculture study options at the university.

It was great that all of the educational institutions represented were keen to point out that the field of agriculture is truly wide-ranging. It encompasses science, engineering, technology, food, retail and much more. The potential for jobs in agriculture is also huge with the Ministry for Primary Industries predicting an additional 55,000 jobs in the next decade.

Food innovation and research experts FoodHQ were on site offering the opportunity to discuss the remarkable science being carried out in New Zealand. FoodHQ is a globally significant centre for agrifood science and innovation with expertise across the food value chain from the generation of ideas through to seeing new products sitting on shelves in stores across the globe. Their site at the Field Days was certainly a popular one, as was Massey University's School of Food and Nutrition, which showcased some of their latest and greatest developments including some healthy snacks made from beans that looked and tasted pretty good.

Organisers estimate that over the three days the Field Days attracted a crowd of around 40,000 and the mood was great, with retailers reporting strong interest and plenty of transactions. Surely another positive signal that reflects the positive signal that reflects the strength of the agricultural sector at present.

The vibe was probably helped by the fine weather. And it was hugely beneficial for those responsible for creating and dismantling the canvas village that essentially became a town within a town in the heart of Feilding.

The Central Districts' Field Days, while strongly supported in our region, also manages to draw people from much further afield on the strength of its reputation as an outstanding event this year's was definitely outstanding.

"There was a real emphasis on youth in agriculture and how to inspire and involve our young people."