Asian Seed Congress flourishes in Christchurch

Christchurch
The 28th Asian Seed Congress was held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on 20-24 November 2023 attracting 1,100 from 45 countries.

Christchurch, New Zealand became the major seed trading hub for the Asia Pacific region as it hosted the 2023 Asian Seed Congress at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.

The event attracted 1,100 people from more than 45 countries to meet and trade seeds and discuss the future development of the seed industry.

It was the 28th iteration of the ASC, and the first time New Zealand had held the Asia and Pacific Seed Association’s (APSA) premier meeting, co-hosting with the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) and with the support of the Ministry of Primary Industries, ChristchurchNZ and Tourism New Zealand Business Events.

“Hosting this event in New Zealand was long overdue. New Zealand is a regional and global leader in the production and export of various vegetable and horticultural crop seeds,” says APSA President Dr Manish Patel.

“New Zealand is a model country in terms of its balance of science-based and business-friendly policy.

“New Zealand was also a popular choice for the event, exceeding attendance expectations.”

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Delivering value for destination and delegates

The event opened with delegates receiving a traditional Māori Mihi Whakatau (welcome) from local iwi from Te Taumata o Ngāi Tūāhuriri and a rousing kapa haka (song and dance) performance from students from Christchurch South Karamata Intermediate School, giving visitors an experience of New Zealand’s unique Māori culture.

Then it was down to four days of business, networking, collaboration, and knowledge sharing across a series of workshops, panel discussions, and technical sessions on issues from biodiversity and intellectual property rights to seed technology, trade, and quarantine. A buzzing exhibition area hosted 37 seed-related businesses from around the world.

The 176 reserved trading tables at the congress sold out, with unreserved tables available on a first-come basis each day also snapped up quickly.

In all, organisers believe close to 10,000 meetings were held during the duration of the event.

“Considering that these meetings help to support marketing and revenue turnover strategies for many of our companies for the entire year, we estimate that as much as US$150m to US$200m of new business is generated from Congress directly, and upwards of US$1bn indirectly as a result of deals, leads and partnerships formed during Congress week,” Dr Patel says.

“Apart from trade deals, important collaborations were formed, including the signing of Memorandum of Understandings related to agricultural R&D and innovation, as well as the forming of public and private partnerships to develop sustainable technologies with a focus on seed quality aspects. These will contribute not only to the bottom line and thus sustainability of seed companies domestically and regionally, but to the food security and thus prosperity of all people and countries globally.”

Hosting the event also delivered an estimated NZ$2.5m to Christchurch’s visitor economy, with many international delegates also taking the opportunity to explore other parts of New Zealand.

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Experiences inside and outside the conference

Four sold-out Post-Congress tours around the Canterbury region brought an experiential element to delegates’ learning and showcased the region’s specialism in the agriculture sector. Tour one was a Canterbury Seed Tour which took in tours of Crown Research Institute Plant & Food’s research centre, a visit to New Zealand’s 2022 Arable Farmer of the Year’s farm in Leeston, and the South Island Seed Dressing and Storage Company in Ashburton. Another tour visited a new seed coating technology plant based in Rolleston recently commissioned for Barenbrug New Zealand’s Seed Processing and Distribution Centre.

Those wanting to see New Zealand’s scenery enjoyed a Discover North Canterbury Tour, visiting a local dairy farm, and sampling world-class wine in the Waipara Valley wine region, while a Canterbury High Country Station tour included a tour of Middle Rock Station sheep farm, complete with panoramic views of the Mount Hutt range.

New Zealand’s appeal as a destination also attracted a number of delegates’ partners and families to attend. An Accompanying Person Tour provided an unforgettable full-day adventure of Christchurch’s must do activities, including riding the City Tram, punting along the Avon River, taking in the view from the Gondola, and boutique shopping at the Tannery.

Delegates also had the opportunity to take part in a 3km charity fun run at Christchurch’s Latimer Square, enabling them to get a feel for the city and to give back to the local community. Around 50 delegates took part, with a total donation of NZ$4,050 given to Ronald McDonald House Canterbury Charities, which support New Zealand families when their children are in hospital.

The Asian Seed Congress also hosted its first ever Ladies Luncheon, an event aimed at cultivating equity and diversity in the seed industry. Attracting 120 women leaders in the sector, it was a huge success and will be an element APSA looks to continue in the future.

NZGSTA President Charlotte Connoley says overall, the Asian Seed Congress was an excellent showcase of both Christchurch and the New Zealand seed industry.

“Canterbury is the hub of the seed industry in New Zealand and was the perfect location for the Asian Seed Congress,” she says.

“The opportunity for delegates to meet in person to do business and to experience the New Zealand seed industry first hand will have a positive and lasting impact on the New Zealand seed industry for years to come.

“We are confident that business has been written that otherwise wouldn’t have had the location been elsewhere and the economic benefits will be seen next season in particular.

“By hosting such an event, New Zealand becomes a viable option for future seed industry events on a global scale creating opportunities for further tourism and trade.”

For more information on hosting a conference in New Zealand visit businessevents.newzealand.com.