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Speaking at last month's Sustainable Protein event at Tai Tapu, business leader Maury Leyland Penno said she was optimistic New Zealand agriculture could make the change to be more sustainable.
''We are resilient optimists, so yes, I absolutely believe it. This is a beautiful country and we all love it.
''We need to change because our water quality is not good enough and what we are doing to the air is not good enough.
''The changes that we're making are not all right, so we need to change and I'm confident, optimistic that we can do it.''
Ms Leyland Penno, a former Fonterra executive, said she and her husband, Synlait founder John Penno, were investing in alternative proteins.
''We're investing in a whole range of businesses that we think will help us make the shift we need to make in our primary sector.''
She said more investment was needed in small and medium-sized businesses producing alternative products to New Zealand's traditional exports.
She advocated for green leafy products and alternatives such as hemp, hops, quinoa, saffron and avocado.
''We've got a lack of capability and resource in crops or products outside our traditional meat, dairy and kiwifruit, so we've got to get there.''
Work was needed to improve processes around national strategies, research institutes and the companies which provided support systems around traceability and food safety.
''It's not a simple challenge but we really need to ramp it up,'' Ms Leyland Penno said.
''At the moment we don't have a clear set of priorities around where we focus in this, so for many of our national bodies the priorities are different or are overlapping and neither of those are particularly useful.''
-By David Hill