Drought no bar to Fieldays exhibitors

Full house: Crowds at last year’s New  Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
Full house: Crowds at last year’s New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

The worst North Island drought in decades has failed to frighten off any registered exhibitors for this year's National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek, leaving organisers cautiously confident the event will be another hit.

Current exhibitor numbers for the June agriculture extravaganza are 803, who snapped up sites in record time this year.

Fieldays chief executive Jon Calder says there is still an air of confidence among exhibitors, bolstered by Fonterra's recently fattened milk-payout forecast and increased advance payment, and banks' assistance packages for farmers struggling with the big dry.

The theme of the 45th annual Fieldays is Getting Down to Business in the Global Economy.

In line with this year's international theme, interest has been strong from overseas companies, Calder said.

Six major business and trade delegations would attend from India, Russia, China, North America and South America, as well as four groups from China, he said.

It is hoped a senior government minister will accompany the Indian delegation. Fieldays recently forged a relationship with the Agrotech Expo, held in North India's Chandigarth.

In other developments, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has become a sponsor of the Fieldays international business visitor centre, and for the next three years telco Vodafone will partner Fieldays in the innovation centre, a big showcase of Kiwi ingenuity and the latest industry developments and inventions.

The Ministry for Primary Industries will sponsor the Premiere Feature, and Waikato business incubator Soda has signed a partnership with Fieldays to launch the "Innovation Den".

Soda will select up to 10 commercially viable inventions participating in the Fieldays Innovation Centre and support the inventors to get their product pitch-ready. A Dragon's Den-style event will follow, where the inventors will try to convince veteran investors and business leaders to back their product with investment and advice. Fieldays will be held from June 12 to 15.

The event attracts more than 120,000 visitors, and is estimated to generate about $130 million for the Waikato economy.