About 1100 people from the seed industry attended the five-day congress at the Te Pae Convention Centre, hosted for the first time by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Industry Association (NZGSTA) and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
They were brought up to speed with new developments at business meetings, a trade exhibition, technical sessions and a special networking session for younger professionals.
NZGSTA president Charlotte Connoley said the visitors learned more about New Zealand’s seed innovation, research, and technology as they connected with business partners and set up new business.
Local businesses made the most of pitching the seed industry to them before, during and after the event, she said.
She said it was only a guess, but the value of new deals would potentially be hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more over time.
"While there was an amount of existing business and cementing those relationships further and an opportunity to see crops in the ground, it’s fair that there would’ve been quite a bit of new business written too just from them being there and seeing it for themselves — the systems, innovation and quality."
Mrs Connoley said the less-formal Kiwi style enjoyed by delegates had probably resulted in more networking and new relationships created.
Sold-out post-conference tours had given them a first-hand experience of New Zealand’s world-class seed industry.
They were impressed by New Zealand’s "big numbers" such as 50% of the world’s white clover, 65% of radish seed and 40% of carrot seed being produced under our temperate climate, she said.
New business would be played out from the following year as contracts were already in place for spring crops in the ground. Companies would keep the momentum of new relationships up and eventually lock in following contracts, she said.
MPI chief science adviser Dr John Roche said the congress opened up talking points about opportunities and challenges as well as the exchange of ideas with delegates making important connections.
He said the seed sector continued to play a vital role in providing sustainable nutrition for billions of people globally.
Asian Pacific Seed Association president Dr Manish Patel said delegates had made the journey from all over the world to see New Zealand and reconnect with the greater Asia-Pacific seed family.
"This week [was] not just about meetings and networking — that is definitely a part of it — but it is a unique business and technical forum that brings together some of the best and brightest in our industry to brainstorm, plan, collaborate, and mitigate the multitude of challenges, and indeed opportunities, for the greater Asia-Pacific seed industry."
The protection of plant varieties was addressed at the congress with a workshop including presentations from breeders and regulators on developments and implications for crop seed intellectual property.
Mrs Connoley said New Zealand had plant varieties rights legislation which was beneficial for the seed industry and was working through how royalty payments would work. She said new varieties were costly to develop and it was important to protect this intellectual property domestically and internationally so future innovations could continue.
Technical sessions included modern crop cultivation techniques and technologies, regulatory oversight of genome-edited product strategies for safeguarding intellectual property during seed production and transportation, breeding innovations and marker-assisted breeding for staple crops.
New Zealand’s seed industry exported 44,546 tonnes of sowing seed worth $146 million dollars in the year to June. These tonnages were back 10% and their value down 2.6% on the previous period, but on par with the immediate years before Covid-19.