Govt focuses on North growth

By Mike Dinsdale

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Nathan Guy
Nathan Guy

A new Government programme designed to unlock Northland's primary industry potential will pull together a number of existing studies and plans and look for funding options to moved the ideas forward, but there's no specific money for the scheme.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy launched a new programme to help unlock the potential for primary industry growth in the region, Northland: Potential for Primary Industry Growth, with a presentation to Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi last week. The programme is the start of a wider programme by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to work in partnership with regions to help them further develop industries like agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and aquaculture.

"We chose to start with Northland because it has significant potential, with a good climate and a vast tracts of land suitable for further development," Mr Guy said.

He said MPI was already working with two Maori-owned farms in Northland. One involves the conversion of 270 hectares of Maori land to a dairy farm.

The other involves providing technical support for a 2480ha dairy and beef farm to increase productivity, with the support of key partners including Landcorp, Dairy NZ and Te Tumu Paeroa.

"Other opportunities in Northland include the development of a new finfish industry - Northland Inc has aspirations of a $300 million per annum industry employing 700 people by 2030 - and increasing on-farm productivity. By growing the primary sector the aim is to create local jobs, lift incomes, and increase the value of exports," Mr Guy said.

"A good example of this is the Northland Hub which is a collaboration between educational institutions and Maori agribusinesses. They are working together to train and attract school leavers into the primary industries. Optimising 116,000ha of Maori freehold land in Northland over the next 10 years has the potential to create 331 jobs. On-farm improvements - moving the production of the bottom 50 per cent of Northland farmers to the median - could be worth around $50 million per year."

He said the programme would identify opportunities, prioritise and agree actions, identify how existing funding programmes could be leveraged and support projects that would create jobs and higher incomes.

The next step will involve formalising the Government's partnership with the Northland Economic Advisory Group and holding a primary sector hui with partners including iwi, Northland businesses, training and research institutes, Northland district and regional councils, industry organisations and other government agencies.

The programme will direct those keen to expand the primary industry in the region to funding options that are already available, although there is no specific new Government funding for the plan.

A copy of the booklet "Northland: Potential for Primary Industry Growth" is available at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/Default.aspx?TabId=126&id=2053

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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