By Elaine Fisher

A Manawatu dairy farm is a long way from the India of his birth and the United Arab Emirates of his childhood, but Amit Sujit says kind Kiwis have made the transition easier.

“Coming to New Zealand was quite a culture shock but Kiwis have been very supportive. I have had amazing experiences here and made friends for life,” says Amit, the 2022 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Five years ago, the 28-year-old arrived in NZ to study at Massey University, gaining a graduate diploma in Science and Technology and Masters in Agricommerce.

He came alone and initially stayed with a young couple and their three children.

“They did all sorts of things to make me comfortable and feel at home. I am grateful to my past and current employers for the opportunities they have given me. Without them I would not be where I am now.”

Today Amit is farm manager on Andrew Hoggard’s 267-hectare, 550-cow Kiwitea farm. Born in India, Amit spent the first 18 years of his life in the UAE but it was summer holidays on his uncle’s coconut farm in India which gave him a love of farming.

“I helped my uncle out on the farm, including harvesting coconuts. Neighbours had cows and chickens and I got interested in agriculture and working outdoors.

“My grandparents were farmers and Mum told me stories about the fun she had on the farm which also drew me in. Perhaps it’s in my blood. I love being outdoors, on my feet, getting my hands dirty and being with the animals.”

Amit came to NZ to gain the agricommerce degree. “Then I wanted to work on a farm to understand from the ground up how things are done.

“I came to dairying by chance through my manager during an internship. She and her partner were looking for a relief worker so that was my first role. I enjoyed being with the cows and all the jobs handed to me. I also enjoyed the outdoors. It was spring and summer and the weather was great. All those things got me interested in dairy farming, so I decided to stick with dairying.

“I’m most excited about the wide range of technology that is coming through the industry to help farmers. Not only will it make farmers’ lives a little easier, it will improve efficiency while also ensuring better animal well-being.

“The elimination of time-consuming tasks creates the potential for lesser working hours for employees, enabling better work/life balance. I still need to figure out a way to spend more time doing things my wife Vani and I love doing together.”

While he intends to stay with farming for a while yet, Amit wants to eventually gain a job in a dairy company to learn as much as he can about the supply chain aspects of the industry.

“My long-term goal is to start an agribusiness of my own as a way to give back to this country for all it has done for me.”