First-year student discusses future of food with industry’s best

First-year student Fatima Imran

Barely a few weeks into her study, first-year Bachelor of AgriCommerce student Fatima Imran, will be rubbing shoulders with industry heavyweights, discussing the future of food production in New Zealand.

AgResearch Future Feeders is a headline event of New Zealand AgriFood Week, exploring the future of food production from the perspectives of industry leaders. Hosted at the Palmerston North Conference and Function Centre on Wednesday March 13, the full-day event will be split into three sections, with a final panel discussion with at the end of the day.

But the former Mt Albert Grammar student says she isn’t worried about the other panelists, which include Mark Piper from Fonterra, Jolon Dyer from AgResearch, and Rob Ward from UK-based company Grocery Accelerator.

“People within these industries are all so down to earth,” Miss Imran says. “People just don’t have giant egos, so it makes it a lot easier to just talk and have a conversation about the issues. I got involved with the event during my summer internship at KPMG. I received a call from CEDA [Central Economic Development Agency] and was asked if I would like to speak at the event, and I said, ‘sure, why not?’”

The focus of the event will be exploring the future of food production from the perspectives of industry leaders.

“They basically want to find out what we want to see in 2050 in this space,” Miss Imran says. “I think New Zealand should be protecting itself, and improving ourselves. Our nutrition levels are quite low and yet we are very much focused on the rest of the world. We as agriculturalists think of ourselves so negatively. I think it’s about time we be more positive, as that’s how we will be able to move forward and get our point across.

“I heard from a speaker from the Netherlands as part of my work with KPMG and they were so self-assured in their direction. I think we could be more like them.”

Miss Imran has been no stranger to these types of events. In 2017, while she was a year 12 student, she spoke during a series of future leaders' events around Fieldays. In these talks she encouraged students to engage with agriculture, explaining how people within her own school saw agriculture as a subject for those just wanting to gain some credits.

But she says before she left, she has seen that culture turn around.

“They’ve done a lot of work in the area and things have really changed. The numbers have increased, but also the calibre of student. It’s a subject worth taking, and the students are driven to succeed. It’s up there with science and other subjects. There’s a lot to offer, it’s not just agriculture, its telecommunications and everything that goes along with a business.”

Massey and Mt Albert Grammar have been working together for a number of years to expose more students to the opportunities in agriculture. Massey will be bringing a small group of students from Mt Albert Grammar to the University around Fieldays to experience what studying agriculture careers are like. 

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