Kiwi ingenuity and a drive to ‘make it work’ have been pivotal in New Zealand’s agriculture sector getting through the Covid-19 pandemic with relatively little impact, according to a new study by AgResearch and its partners.

Farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in New Zealand and Australia were surveyed or interviewed about the impacts of Covid-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns. While acknowledging overall negative effects, additional stress and pressures from the pandemic and response, only 47% of New Zealand survey respondents viewed the effect on their farms or businesses as negative over that period. A further 37% said the effect was neutral.

Much of New Zealand’s primary sector was able to continue working through the Covid-19 lockdowns and, unlike some other nations, its performance held up well. Export revenue from primary products for the period exceeded revenue from the previous year.

Those interviewed in the NZ sector also identified some positives coming out of the pandemic experience such as better ways of working (including going paperless or doing online meetings), opportunities for new markets for their products, and increased community appreciation of their sector.

“The term resilience is a buzzword that’s probably a bit overused. But it’s clear from our analysis that the inbuilt ability to cope with adversity through various means, find new ways of doing things and get on with the job, were important in how farmers and their supporting industries performed so well,” says AgResearch senior scientist Dr Val Snow.

One New Zealand farmer talked about the necessity to homeschool the kids “meant they were involved in farming life and saw the decision-making process and us discussing real-life events”.

Another experienced “indirectly, a change in attitude among the public around how they value the security of food production and therefore the role of farmers in providing that food”.

The full details in the open access published article can be viewed HERE.

  • Supplied.