Sharing skills a win win for all
AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have some of the best agricultural practices in the world. To use them to improve developing nations it is just a matter of putting them out there.
That’s the attitude of Leith Pemberton, a Kiwi agribusiness consultant who adapted New Zealand dairy farming for China, just as Mundubbera’s Allen and Sue Jenkin hope to do with Australian citrus in Laos.
“I absolutely think more people should take on these sorts of projects, because if they are done properly everyone wins,” he said.
Mr Pemberton was the development manager for Fonterra when they set up their first dairy farm in China in 2006.
Called the Hangu Project, it involved caring for 3000 head of cattle on just 35 hectares of land.
Mr Pemberton came up with a business model that has now been replicated five other times for dairy farms throughout China.
“The best thing is seeing the small, incremental changes the locals you employ slowly start to make,” he said.
“Ultimately the operation has to be able to run without expats, so you have to employ good personnel and take care in educating them.”
He said the projects became sustainable when the local employees saw the real effects of what they were learning.
“If you show someone how feeding the cow better food means she will produce a better calf, then they understand why they are better off,” he said.
“That’s better than someone in an aid program just saying ‘well, here’s a calf’.”
Giving the locals these skills and education not only benefited them, but meant Fonterra could grow dairy products in their markets, at much lower cost.
Mr Pemberton is now working with Tranzfutura International to set up sheep, vegetable and cattle farms in the Soviet Union.