Aged 64, Malcolm Bailey says farewell after a stellar career in the dairy industry but his knowledge, innovation and drive will not be lost to the wider primary sector.
We have a large chunks of NZ's elite soils. We have the full range of farming and horticultural operations: Asparagus to zucchinis and most things in between. Our strong hill country is home to a variety of livestock, as well as mānuka honey and carbon farming.
The central geographic location of Palmerston North means it is a natural freight and logistics hub for a wide range of industries and this supports the food production and distribution of our region. We are also a hub for livestock trading with the largest sale yards in New Zealand located in Feilding.
We have a world class agri-food/ agritech/ agribusiness hub built around Massey University.
This encompasses the major Crown Research Institutes, Riddet Institutes, Fonterra Research and FoodHQ. We also have a cluster of venture capital activity encompassing The Factory, Sprout and Finistere Ventures.
On the back of this research and development capability, we have a number of agritech companies such as Biolumic, Levno and Greentech Robotics, as well as a strong group of more traditional manufacturing businesses.
The highly qualified people we have working in this leading cluster help push us to top ranking in New Zealand for PhDs relative to the general population. We also have a strong arts community and in our midst many of New Zealand's leading artists.
We embrace science here and recognise that the gene technologies that developed Covid vaccines are also able to solve a lot of challenges we face in primary production - such as reducing climate gas emissions, improving animal health and improving water quality.
This region has outperformed the rest of New Zealand during the tough economic times caused by Covid. A key reason for this is the strength of our primary sector economy. A small but growing part of the rural economy here is tourism.
Most urban people are now quite disconnected from farming and food production, but many want to enjoy farm experiences as well as visit attractions like the Feilding sale yards. Many of these people are also attracted to the region's outdoor activities, such as trail riding and tramping.
While opportunities such as the CD Field Days to showcase the region have been curtailed by Covid, the ongoing strength and development of this region's primary sector economy is something to be proud of.
Malcolm Bailey is a Manawatu farmer and company director.