An international food and agriculture summit in Sydney on March 28 examines challenges and solutions for creating a sustainable future for agriculture.
Rabobank’s Farm2Fork Summit returns to Sydney’s Cockatoo Island after three years, bringing together agribusiness industry leaders, local and international farmers, food and agribusiness start-up businesses, and prominent ag, science and technology researchers and innovators.
The one-day invitation-only event will feature leading international and local speakers discussing ideas from the world of agriculture and further afield.
Rabobank Group executive board member, Berry Marttin (pictured), said the summit would examine major issues facing agriculture and food production globally, and showcase “knowledge, solutions and innovations that will help us all create a sustainable future in agriculture and effectively ‘grow a better world together’”.
Topics to be explored at the summit include the role of new science in redirecting challenging waste streams away from landfill and back to production; the immediate benefits of proactive bio-diversity management in agricultural land; how artificial intelligence and robotics will influence farming’s future, and technology’s influence on consumers and their food choices.
Presenters include the federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud; University of NSW Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Toby Walsh; international aid worker, Linda Cruse, and Rabobank global chairman Wiebe Draijer.
Whites' Lifeline help
Fencing products marketer, Whites Rural, has joined forces with Lifeline Australia to provide support and resources to rural communities.
Lifeline is a leader in suicide prevention with more than half its centres based in regional Australia, receiving about 1 million requests for help every year.
“Financial pressure and feelings of isolation are perennial concerns for many rural and regional Australians,” said Whites Group chief executive officer, Michael Kelly.
“Add to that fluctuations in weather patterns causing floods, fire and drought and it becomes a real test for the resilience that people on the land are renowned for”.
“We believe good fences make good neighbours and we wanted a way to give back to the rural communities that have supported us”, Mr Kelly said.
To donate to Lifeline Australia text RURAL to 0427 992 713.
Beston boss slices costs
Former cheese maker and new chief executive officer at South Australian based dairy processor, Beston Global Food Company, John Hicks, has moved into the job following November's resignation of Sean Ebert.
He has been charged with continuing a “restructure and retune” of Beston’s marketing functions to lift sales targets and cut overall operating expenditures.
A $1 million savings target for 2018-19 involved ending several third-party service providers and recruiting new salaried sales staff.
Streamlining plans for dairy operations and capital management initiatives are also being considered.
Mr Hicks’ background includes stints with Bega Cheese and its Tatura Milk Industries subsidiary and as CEO of Pure Dairy Australia and an agribusiness advisory firm.
Beston has just commissioned a freeze drying and milling facility at its Jervois dairy fractionation plant to absorb increased production of whey from the new mozzarella plant at Jervois.
The valuable lactoferrin protein can now be produced in a powder form for export.
“In 2015, high grade milled lactoferrin product was selling for $200 to $250 a kilogram. But now fetches 10 times that price,” Mr Hicks said.
“We have the ability to be a significant player in the global dairy nutraceuticals industry.”
Taking root in hemp market
Australian-listed, but Israeli based Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies is expanding into North America’s cannabis sector selling its root zone temperature optimisation (RZTO) heating and cooling technology for greenhouse and outdoor production.
The newly patented RZTO technology is considered well placed to take advantage of keen growth in legal cannabis cultivation in the US and Canada.
Roots' open field root zone heating technology, in Washington state trials, enabled ground-heated cannabis plants in open fields to lift average un-trimmed dry bud and leaf weight by up to 283 per cent compared to unheated control crops, despite challenging frosty autumn growing conditions.
A technology showcase to key cannabis producers in California, Colarado and Canada generated interest in deploying RZTO technology as North American cannabis production moves towards larger scale production.
Roots chief executive officer Dr Sharon Devir, said as US cannabis prices had dropped to $US350 a pound, growers were adopting cost-effective technologies to improve operational efficiencies.
“North America’s cannabis markets offer tremendous potential for our root zone heating and cooling technology, and we’re encouraged by positive feedback received during recent marketing efforts.”
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