An opportunity as well as a rival: New Zealand's agriculture sector
It seems counterintuitive that an important market for Irish agriculture could also be a major competitor. But despite the great distance that separates them, a lucrative commercial relationship exists between Ireland and New Zealand.
The two countries share strong historical links, innumerable social and cultural ties and, in many cases, deep personal connections that help business relationships.
With a long history in farming, agribusiness has emerged as a key pillar of Irish innovation and today several of our companies are world leaders in their specialised fields.
So it should come as no surprise that New Zealand, a country in which agriculture accounts for about 60pc of exports and is the largest part of the tradeable economy, should be a market for specialist Irish equipment.
New Zealanders are hugely impressed with the inventiveness of Irish agribusiness and the supports around it such as the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, which provides breeding information to the dairy and beef industries.
A drive for research and innovation has long been a feature of the sector in Ireland, with robust investments in education, animal health, farm equipment and management technology, seed production and plant genetics. These offerings are greatly in demand in New Zealand's arable farming and livestock industry in particular. Ireland's presence for the tenth consecutive year at the recent New Zealand National Fieldays - akin to the Ploughing Championships - is testament to the importance of this market for Irish agribusiness.
National Fieldays provides a platform for companies to meet thousands of potential customers from all over New Zealand. The connections made during the week provide valuable insights into the needs of the local market. This year, five Irish companies exhibited on the Ireland stand, with a further 11 displaying independently or with local partners.
Exhibits included electronic calving sensor Moocall and Cross Agricultural's beet processing machinery.