|Not a member? Sign up now!|
Research and innovation in New Zealand’s most valuable export industry received a significant boost today with the signing of an agreement between The University of Auckland, industry-good body DairyNZ, farmer cooperative LIC (Livestock Improvement Corporation) and New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institute AgResearch.
The agreement establishes a Joint Graduate School in Dairy Research and Innovation that will educate postgraduate students in fields relevant to the dairy industry and increase collaboration between the partner organisations.
The school will span disciplines that contribute to sustainable productivity on the farm – such as genetics, agricultural technology and environmental science – through to those that add value beyond the farm gate such as food science and business.
The aim is to enhance postgraduate education in these disciplines in New Zealand and internationally, with at least 50 Masters and PhD students by 2015 across science, engineering, business, social science and health.
“We want to create a focus on, and a catchment for, the dairy industry at New Zealand’s leading university, to help recruit top talent into all areas of the industry,” explains Dean of Science Professor Grant Guilford. “The school’s urban base will also provide an opportunity for urban-rural issues to be discussed and better understood.”
The establishment of the Joint Graduate School reflects the importance of the dairy industry to New Zealand.
“The dairy sector is this country’s single largest export earner, accounting for 28 percent of all merchandise exports in 2011-12. Its contribution to New Zealand’s GDP is greater than the fishing, forestry and mining sectors combined and 10 times larger than the contribution from the wine industry,” says DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle.
“We need to focus on producing top quality graduates with the education and skills directly relevant to the dairy industry. This collaborative initiative is all about how we can work together to encourage the best and brightest to see the great career and research opportunities that exist in our sector.”
Mark Dewdney, LIC’s Chief Executive, says the dairy farmer owned cooperative is delighted to be involved with The University of Auckland, DairyNZ and AgResearch in an initiative which will increase access to talented students from a wide range of disciplines.
“Our science team will be working with students in a supervisory capacity as they confront some of the challenges facing today’s dairy farmers. The Joint Graduate School in Dairy Research and Innovation will also provide students with greater clarity around career pathways so it’s a win-win situation for the University and the dairy industry in general.”
AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson says the Joint Graduate School is a natural fit for AgResearch. “Improving the number and calibre of graduates entering the dairy industry will pay huge dividends for the industry and New Zealand Inc. We currently recruit more than two-thirds of our scientists from overseas because of the shortage of local graduates – this initiative is a significant move towards redressing that.”