The government is backing a new $27 million project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery efforts, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
“Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our economy. During and post lockdown they’ve become a lifeline for a number of redeployed workers from industries such as tourism, forestry and hospitality,” he said.
“Our growers and producers will play a critical role in our economic recovery. The Government knows this which is why in Budget 2020 we committed $38.5 million to help the sector seize further opportunities for future growth. This adds to that investment.
O’Connor said A Lighter Touch is a collaboration between government and industry. The aim is to create new growing methods and crop protection measures that reduce chemical use, and spur greater production. “Our high-value overseas consumers want to know the story behind their food. They want greater assurances that the food and fibre they buy is produced in a sustainable way – and they’re willing to pay a premium for it.
“We have a great story to tell because our growers are among the most efficient and sustainable in the world. There is an opportunity for New Zealand to become the world’s preferred supplier of plant-based food products. This project will help us seize that opportunity, create more demand, generate higher export returns, and grow rural communities with new jobs.”