Far North dairy farmers Georgina Tui and Mate Covich are selling their land to avocado orchard developers. Their herd has been sold and they are waiting for water consent approvals for the deal to be finalised. Three other dairy farms at Aupouri Peninsula, near Kaitaia, have been sold in the last two years for development into avocado orchards.
Known for its early-season production of vegetables, the region's climate and soil suited avocados, with access to water the key final ingredient. NZ Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said the industry had 3800 productive hectares, with another 1000ha planted in the last three years: "We are comfortable that there is global demand for the increased plantings and are happy to see continued investment in avocados.”
New Zealand represented only 1 per cent of world production and while global demand was growing 10 per cent a year, supply was only increasing by 3 per cent. While Bay of Plenty represented 65 per cent of production, new plantings were in Northland, centred around Houhora in the Far North and Tapora in Kaipara Harbour.
Avocado plantings did not have to involve a total farm conversion "If you have 4ha of avocados on your dairy farm, it's another source of income and environmental diversification and can assist succession planning by providing an option for the next generation," Scoular said.
Investors include businessman and mandarin grower Tony Gibbs who has developed one of New Zealand's largest avocado orchards with the planting of 45,000 trees completed at Tapora last year and former Fresh Food Exports owner John Greensmith who has a 50ha orchard. Trees start producing after about three years, but do not reach full production until seven years.
Kiwifruit plantings also continue to grow, with Zespri expected to supply more gold kiwifruit than green this harvest.