From This Land: Photos and stories of impact at NZ’s Expo Pavilion

Changed lives, rising incomes and horticultural productivity gains were under the spotlight at the New Zealand Pavilion during Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The photo-story exhibition ‘From This Land’ showcased the impressive impact of four development projects on the lives of smallholder farmers, agronomists, business owners and scientists in Viet Nam and Cambodia.

Through portraits, stories, video and a podcast series, the exhibition featured the partnership approach, capacity building and scientific expertise of staff at the New Zealand science institute, Plant & Food Research.

“Development is complex and there are many challenges to overcome,” says Dr Suzie Newman, Head of International Development at Plant & Food Research.

“But through collaboration, innovation and sheer hard work, amazing and life-changing results are happening. It makes me confident that good development practices will deliver so much more over the coming decade.”

Most of the world’s 570 million farms are small and family-operated. As producers of over 70% of the world’s food, they are critical to biodiversity and food security.

Sharing better ways to grow food with such a large and diverse group of farmers is a big challenge. It has to happen, however, because demand for agricultural crops is set to double as our planet’s population climbs to 9.1 billion by 2050.

“From This Land” highlights how research and sustainable farming practices are changing futures in Viet Nam and Cambodia. The projects were made possible by funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme and local commercial revenue brokered by New Zealand G2G.

Plant & Food Research scientists work alongside farmers, advisors, not-for-profits, science institutes, designers and the business community. Best-practice development is reuniting families, lifting incomes and improving the environment.

UAE project partners of Plant & Food Research and other guests attended an exhibition launch event at the New Zealand Pavilion on 17 February. The show was open to the public for three days, with guided tours given numerous special guests including Expo representatives from countries including Palau, the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

Ulrike Muller, an influential Member of the European Parliament was also hosted at the exhibition by Clayton Kimpton, Commissioner-General of New Zealand at Expo. A member of the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, Ulrike Muller chairs the Parliament’s Delegation to Australia and New Zealand (DANZ).

‘From This Land’ came to Expo after featuring in the 2021 Auckland Festival of Photography and a show at the New Zealand Parliament. It will be on public display in Wellington for two weeks from 26 April 2022.

The exhibition features 18 portraits and other images by award-winning New Zealand photographer Wara Bullot and text by her Plant & Food Research colleague Phil Johnstone.

Business development was the driver for Plant & Food Research attending Expo. The Crown Research Institute expects to build partnerships that will lead to increased revenue for its international development unit, and lift income across its diverse portfolio of research and technology services.

Since 2014, Plant & Food Research has won approx $3 million in commercial contracts in the Gulf. Projects include research on use of wastewater for irrigating amenity forestry plantings, the effects of saline water on date palm irrigation, and creating a crop calculator for water use. The projects come under the 2013 MoU between the NZ and the UAE relating to environmental management development, supported by NZG2G.

Three projects have included Environment Abu Dhabi (EAD) staff doing PhD studies through Massey University under the supervision of PFR Principal Scientist and Associate Professor Dr Brent Clothier. This provides EAD with upskilled staff and capacity to continue making progress after a project finishes.

The exhibition’s visit to Expo was made possible by funding support from New Zealand at Expo.