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New Zealand’s 10-year plan to boost primary sector by $44 billion

Image credit: www.mpi.govt.nz

The New Zealand government plans to increase primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade with a goal of getting 10,000 more New Zealanders working in the sector over the next four years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Fit for a Better World Roadmap – Accelerating our Economic Potential, a 10-year plan that will unlock a greater value from the “force” that is New Zealand’s primary sector.

The pandemic, a once-in-a-century public health crisis, has shaken societies and economies around the world.

Other big export sectors such as tourism and international education have been hard hit by COVID-19 making primary sector exports more important than ever.

If successful, the plan would almost double the current value of the primary sector. The plan sets a target of lifting primary sector export earnings to $10 billion a year by 2030 which would bring in a cumulative $44 billion more in earnings in a decade.

The sector accounted for $46.4 billion of New Zealand’s $58.3 billion of total exports to June 2019. It is forecast to increase by a further $1.6 billion in 2020.

The sector is vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery as it has already proven essential for New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The roadmap brings together opportunities to address concerns arising as a consequence of COVID-19, as well as issues that needed tackling prior to COVID-19 and offered “transformational opportunities” to accelerate better performance of the primary sector.

The plan focused on three themes:

  • Productivity: adding $44 billion in export earnings over the next decade through a focus on creating value.
  • Sustainability: reducing New Zealand’s biogenic methane emissions to 24% – 47% below 2017 levels by 2050; and 10% below by 2030. Plus restoring New Zealand’s freshwater environments to a healthy state within a generation.
  • Inclusiveness: employing 10% more New Zealanders in the food and fibre sector by 2030, and 10,000 more New Zealanders in the primary sector over the next four years.

Delivering this roadmap will require alignment across the entire sector, but particularly within the research, science, innovation and mātauranga Māori parts of the sector. The plan incorporates initiatives that the New Zealand government was already investing in.

An amount of $122 million was dedicated to farmer-led solutions as part of a $229 million investment in Productive and Sustainable Land Use.

Another $31 million was earmarked to improved monitoring of the fishing catch on commercial fishing vessels, including for monitoring of on-board cameras and support for new protections for Hector’s and Māui dolphins.

A further $480 million was set aside for forestry, through the One Billion Trees and Crown Forestry Joint Venture Programme.

Export and international trade measure include streamlining border clearance processes, the ongoing role of remote verification, use of electronic certification and ensuring our regulatory settings facilitate the growth of e-commerce.

To kick-start delivery of the roadmap the government was accelerating nearly $100 million via the Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund and in forestry for innovative and creative projects.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the plan was a “direction based on a vision” that would help increase productivity, with the support from government investment.

The primary sector’s ability to record 4.5% growth in the 12 months to April 2020 and forecast export revenue set to hit nearly $48 billion despite COVID-19, highlighted demand for New Zealand products.

OpenGov Asia recently reported on New Zealand’s investments in agritech as an important part of the nation’s 10-year strategy for the primary sector.

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