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Latest News / Features

Latest News / Features

North India and Pahiatua are worlds apart, but two brothers have managed to bridge them, becoming the 2021 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year. 

Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj grew up on their family’s cropping farm in North India, two hours drive from Delhi, which also includes around ten dairy cows. 

 

Manoj finished his agricultural studies in India and worked on the family farm for ten months before wanting to study more. He learned that New Zealand has many good options in agriculture and came to this country as a horticulture student in 2010.  “I was commuting between Auckland and Tauranga twice a week and noticed that around the orchards there were dairy farms. “I stopped to have a look and was excited by them - the scale of the dairy farms with up to a thousand cows for every four or five staff whereas in India it is around one person for every ten cows. “I thought I would look for a job in the industry and in 2011 saw an online advertisement for a farm assistant in Pahiatua and did an interview via skype.” 

 

Manoj started working as a farm assistant but quickly became the manager after the previous one resigned, while his brother Sumit, who had come to New Zealand with Manoj’s encouragement, became the farm assistant at the beginning of 2012.  Today the brothers are 50/50 sharemilkers with 760 cows on two properties in Pahiatua and one in Eketahuna, owned by Andrew and Monika Arbuthnott, Geoff Arends and Ester Romp’s 285ha. 

 

Last month Manoj and Sumit were named the 2021 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, and described as driven, professional and high-achieving siblings who benchmark excellence within the industry.  Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, says Manoj and Sumit impressed the judges with glowing reports from current and past employers and employees.  “They have amazing relationships with two sets of owners, who really believe in them.”  The judges were also impressed with the brothers’ on-farm presentation, which used drone footage from their family farm in northern India to explain their history and where they are from. 

 

Manoj and Sumit demonstrated strengths in leadership, health and farm safety, business and community engagement. They also won three merit awards: The Federated Farmers Leadership Award, Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.

 

Manoj believes Tararua accountancy firm MCI & Associates, who they have been with for eight years, have played a big part in their success as a business and in winning the national award.  MCI Associate Principal Aaron Karena meets with Manoj and Sumit quarterly to work through their business strategy to ensure everything is on track for success. “We go over the business and look at different options to see how we can get from where we are now to our goals in the shortest and most profitable way. “The lessons we learned would not have been possible without Aaron. We are lucky to have MCI. They have sped up our growth multiple times.”  

 

The brothers met on farm with Aaron and Agri Relationship Manager Sally Terry to prepare and get their feedback.  Entering the awards has created an excellent network within the industry and valuable feedback from judges, Manoj says.  “Coming from India, we didn’t know many people and so have engaged in dairy industry events to overcome our lack of a network.”  The New Zealand dairy farming system is totally different from back home in India and it really appeals to the brothers.  “It’s very rewarding as we can see the improvements we make on-farm and there is a culture unlike any other industry.” 

 

Share Farmer judge Guy Michaels from DairyNZ said the brothers demonstrated involvement and leadership in the local community and in the dairy community.  “They have a willingness to work with others to achieve joint goals and advocate on behalf of others.”  An example of this was Manoj and Sumit assisting a family in Wellington who had lost employment due to COVID-19.  Manoj says the man was a family friend who had lost his job as a chef in Wellington.  “I asked if he wanted to give dairy farming a go. He stayed with us for six weeks on the dairy farm, and we showed him the milking basics. 

“Then we started looking for a job for him and found him one as a farm assistant last year.”  

 

The judges noted the brothers have a strong health and safety culture on-farm, with a long history of recording incidents and following through with changes.  “Health and safety is most important to us,” says Manoj. “We want our employees to get home safely at night.”  Judge Guy Michaels noted how strong the brothers are in their community involvement and leadership.  They have promoted PrimaryITO courses to everyone in their community and have offered up one of their buildings to ensure the training takes place.  

 

The brothers enjoy living in the Tararua district.  “We feel really welcomed here and like the community.”  Their brother Bramod continues to manage the family farm in India. 

 

Should you want to know more about the success of Manoj and Sumit or want to see how MCI can help you with your farming success get in touch with Aaron from MCI on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone him on 027 301 0085.