Southeast Asian entrepreneurs to
gain insights into New Zealand agriculture

Top Southeast Asian agribusiness leaders and entrepreneurs will be visiting Hamilton agricultural show Fieldays in June as part of a programme run by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
Two people stand pointing through a fence

The Southeast Asian participants will get insights into New Zealand's agricultural practices

The group is coming to New Zealand for a week-long programme through the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, managed by the Asia New Zealand Foundation for the New Zealand Government. ASEAN is a grouping of 10 Southeast Asian nations with a population of more than 620 million. New Zealand has a free trade agreement in place with ASEAN through the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA).

Since 2012, the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative has brought more than 50 dynamic entrepreneurs and business leaders from Southeast Asia to New Zealand, building business connections and facilitating trade links.

The group will attend the international networking function at Fieldays on 16 June and other activities appropriate to their specific sectors. They will also visit Waikato farms and orchards.

They will also travel to Wellington for government briefings and Auckland for other meetings, including a visit to agritech company Tru-Test Group. 

The participants are:

  • Mr Roberto Crisostomo, Philippines: managing partner of Casco Commodity, a Philippines-wide cacao cooperative, and co-founder of Ritual, a retailer of Filipino organic, fair-trade products.
  • Ms Hanna Keraf, Indonesia: co-founder and chief operating officer of Du’Anyam, a social enterprise focused on rural female employment.
  • Ms Nguyen Thi Phuong, Vietnam: CEO of Liti Florist, a flower retailer at the forefront of modernising the Vietnam flower industry.
  • Ms Phyu Hninn Nyein, Myanmar: operations manager of Proximity Designs, a social enterprise that designs innovative agricultural techniques to boost farm productivity. 
  • Mr Pham Minh Duc, Vietnam: managing director of Ecolink, an organic, fair-trade tea company that exports to Europe and the US.
  • Ms Pham Thi Nhan, Vietnam: CEO and founder of the Herb Bank Vietnam Project, established to improve the production of Vietnamese herbs and to develop a database of the more than 4000 varieties.  
  • Mr Wei Sheng Phee, Malaysia: director of Sweet Potatoes Sdn Bhd, which produces pesticide-free sweet potatoes.
  • Mr Ben Soegoro, Indonesia: owner/managing director of CV Pondok Daya, an organic coconut sugar company that exports globally, including to New Zealand.
  • Ms Adeline Suwana, Indonesia: founder and executive director of environmental NGO Indonesia Friends of Nature, which has received United Nations and Indonesian government funding.
  • Mr Phoxai Vongphasith, Laos: CEO of SEIS-Consulting Co, a consultancy firm with interests in agriculture and rural development.

Thirty New Zealand-based members of the Foundation’s Leadership Network will also visit Hamilton for Fieldays and to participate in the Foundation’s Agribusiness Hui on 17-18 June. The Leadership Network is a global professional network at the forefront of developing and maintaining strong links between New Zealand and Asia. Its members include Jason Te Brake, chairman of NZ Young Farmers and others working in a range of agricultural sectors.

ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative project manager Adam McConnochie says the Asia New Zealand Foundation designed its latest programme to coincide with Fieldays. 

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for a group of Southeast Asian business leaders to learn about the opportunities, best practice and innovation in New Zealand, a country they may not otherwise have visited. 

“In the past, we’ve hosted Southeast Asian business leaders working in meat and small goods, halal foods, natural products, fertiliser and biotechnology sectors. We’ve seen some ongoing business relationships result – such as health food company NutriNest using New Zealand manuka honey for their products in Vietnam. 

“But it’s also about building strong networks. As New Zealand’s trade ties to Southeast Asia continue to grow, participants will act as an important resource for New Zealanders doing business in the region, and provide valuable insights into ASEAN markets.”

The Foundation has also started organising sector-specific programmes in Southeast Asia for young New Zealand entrepreneurs, including a food and beverage tour to Indonesia, an agricultural visit to the Philippines and a tech visit to Thailand.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation with a range of programmes designed to equip New Zealanders with first-hand experience of Asia and to forge valuable links to the region. Founded in 1994, the Foundation works in five main areas - business, arts and culture, education, media and research. It also runs a Leadership Network and takes a lead role in track II (informal diplomacy) bilateral and multilateral dialogues in the Asia-Pacific region.