Tuesday, 12 January 2021 09:21

Resilience kept NZ agriculture strong through pandemic

Written by  Jessica Marshall
Researchers found that the ability to cope with adversity, finding new ways of doing things and getting on with the job, were important in how the NZ agriculture sector performed so well during the pandemic. Photo Credit: Kieran Scott Researchers found that the ability to cope with adversity, finding new ways of doing things and getting on with the job, were important in how the NZ agriculture sector performed so well during the pandemic. Photo Credit: Kieran Scott

A new report has found that Kiwi ingenuity and a drive to “make it work” were crucial to New Zealand’s primary sector managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study was carried out by AgResearch and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) – along with several science research organisations in New Zealand and Australia.

Some 194 NZ farmers and workers from the agriculture and food systems sector were surveyed online – along with a further 127 Australian farmers and agriculture workers – about the impacts of Covid-19 during the period to June 2020.

Many respondents acknowledged overall negative effects, additional stress and pressure from the pandemic and response. The effects specifically mentioned include reductions in the availability of agricultural inputs and specialised and non-specialised labour. Also mentioned were distribution difficulties, reduced capacity in processing plants, and changes in market demand.

The report found that NZ’s agriculture industry began to feel the impact of the pandemic in late-February and early-March. It states that “the reduction in tourist arrivals substantially affected demand for agricultural products through the restaurant and fast food trade, both of which were shut down.”

Despite the difficulties faced by those in the primary sector, only 47% of New Zealand respondents viewed the effects on their farms or businesses negatively over the period studied. A further 37% said the effect was neutral.

Those interviewed in New Zealand said they also found positives coming out of the pandemic experience, such as opportunities for new markets for their products and increased community appreciation of their sector.

“The term resilience is a buzzword that’s probably a bit overused,” says AgResearch senior scientist Dr Val Snow.

“But it’s clear from our analysis that the in-built ability to cope with adversity through various means, find new ways of doing things and get on with the job, were important in how farmers and their supporting industries performed so well.”

Snow says that while many farmers were already dealing with drought conditions, they were able to manage through the extra difficulties. She adds that relatively high technology use and strong connections in the New Zealand sector also meant the industry was well-placed to respond to the pandemic.

“Although the outlook is more positive now with access to vaccines looming, many of those we heard from expect impacts of the pandemic to linger for some time. We will be interested to see how those impacts change over time, and that is where further research will be valuable.”

Snow told Rural News that there is no reason to think that this resilience would dissipate in 2021.

More like this

Promising early results for facial eczema test

Early results from a pilot study investigating the potential for a laboratory test to determine facial eczema (FE) tolerance are positive, paving the way for more detailed investigation.

Cow sleep science

OPINION: AgResearch scientists are pushing boundaries to see how much quality sleep cows are getting.

Positive N news for dairy sheep

An AgResearch study shows that dairy sheep appear to have lower nitrogen leaching per hectare than their bovine counterparts. Dr Diana Selbie has been leading the MBIE-funded project looking at the environmental footprint of dairy sheep. Its aim is to provide some hard data to back up claims that this industry is more environmentally friendly. Peter Burke reports...

Changing look for NZ lamb?

New Zealand meat producers will have to change their breeding priorities to take a full advantage of a new optical meat quality monitoring system being developed by AgResearch.


West Coast resilience tested

DairyNZ head consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch, says his first priority has been to get an accurate…

They have a point!

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison says he understands why the Groundswell protest was so big.

We messed up - Minister

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor admits the Government "made mistakes" with its initial freshwater farm plans.

Machinery & Products

Keen on easy-to-use spaceship

Reporoa based Murdoch Agricultural Contracting, owned and operated by couple Harry Murdoch and Samantha Parker, started by targeting a niche.

One-pass cultivator moves 70% less soil

According to Kverneland distributor, Power Farming, the KultiStrip system will bring opportunities to farm environmentally, while improving yields and profitability.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Real or reel?

OPINION: Your canine crusader reckons people should be very skeptical of video footage supplied to TV news by vested interests.

It's coming!

OPINION: This old mutt reckons the 'woke' epidemic - currently rife in left wing and government circles - is now…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter