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Seed forum a growing success

Seed forum a growing success

New Zealand Grain & Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) president Charlotte Connoley says the Women in Seed Forum turnout was "incredible."

"We had 140 attendees, and attendance keeps going up every year, which is really positive."

The event, which took place on May 21 at the Chateau on the Park in Christchurch, is in its fifth year. A diverse range of women attended from across the seed and arable sector.

Connoley said that while the national conference attracts decision-makers and managers, the forum has attendees from throughout the seed and grain industry, from agronomists and lab technicians to people involved in seed processing.

Clare Bradley and Charlotte Connoley

"It's a really good opportunity to get everyone across the value chain, which is great in terms of collaboration because we can't just look at things in isolation."

The forum featured eight keynote speakers who presented on technical research, scientific innovation, and broader topics related to communication and nutrition.

Professor Andy Allan from Plant & Food Research and Auckland University spoke about gene editing, its implications for the industry, and the challenges of public perception.

Clare Bradley from Agrisea gave attendees a glimpse into the seaweed business's journey and the product's science and innovation opportunities.

Fiona Anderson, a PhD student from Lincoln University, gave insight into her research, and Dr Linda Johnson spoke about her work with endophytes and supporting resilient farming systems.

Amy Scott

Communication expert Amy Scott gave a lively presentation on communication challenges and how to understand communication styles better.

Charlotte Glass from Agrimagic spoke about her challenges and how to "walk your own path", and Fields of Change founder Bridgit Hawkins spoke about opportunities for women to increase their role in the primary sector.

The day finished with a presentation by author and nutritionist Clare Turnbull.

Clare bradley from Agrisea

Connoley said events like the Women in Seed Forum were important as a networking opportunity for women, especially since most other industry events are male-dominated.

"An industry event of any kind is important for sharing knowledge and bringing everyone together.

"I think the unique thing for women going to these events, is that women tend to be less than ten per cent of the total audience, and the males are more like 90 per cent.

"That creates a challenging environment for women to collaborate and network in."

Connoley said that it would be good for the industry to reach a stage where an event could encompass both male and female participants in the seed industry, but the growth in the forums' numbers suggested there was still a need for a women-only event.

"It's clear there's a desire for this, and people find it a comfortable setting to understand the industry better. It's just not as daunting."

Upcoming seed industry events

  • Breeders Forum, Tuesday, July 30, Commodore Airport Hotel
  • Services to Seed Forum Thursday, ¬†August 8
  • Arable Awards+ of New Zealand, Thursday, August 15, Wigram Airforce Museum
  • NZGSTA Annual Conference, November 4-5

by Claire Inkson