RNZ

The government announced an agritech support plan this morning including working with companies commercialising new products, and establishing a horticultural robotics academy.

The investment in the agritech sector was outlined in this year's budget.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford described these actions as "truly transformational".

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He said there is potential for the agritech sector to become a stronger economic contributor.

Twyford said focus needs to be on agritech exports and furthering sustainable primary production in New Zealand.

Work in the agritech sector is part of the government's Transformation Plan that outlines ways to lift productivity. The plan was developed with input from a range of industry interests.

There has been no decision on where the robotics academy will be situated but the person who suggested the idea, Dr Alastair Scarfe, hopes it will be in his home region of Bay of Plenty.

Dr Scarfe is one of the founders of an automation and robotics company Robotics Plus and said his firm had been taking on engineering and technical graduates for years and the academy would be an extension of that work.

However he said he would like it broadened to include all agriculture and horticulture, and be very much a practical post-grad learning facility.

"I'm wanting less at the academic end and more at the practical, hands-on, doing skill sets. Very commercial and end-user focused," he said.

Scarfe said it could be a place any automation or robotic business could source its staff from.

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He said there is a shortage of expertise and workers in this area.