Government and sector back innovative regional and wool projects

The Government closed out the National Fieldays week with new investments through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to help kickstart sustainable and high-value wool and regional food and fibre.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor highlighted these features of the announcement:

  • $2.17 million for new food and fibre ventures in Taranaki
  • $2.24m to develop high-value, sustainable cashmere industry
  • $233,000 to prototype an acoustic, knitted textile product from strong wool for high-end commercial and residential interiors.
  • $530 million co-invested with business through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund

SFF Futures had resulted in the Government co-investing $530 million with business in projects exploring a wide range of opportunities to diversify our exports, capture value and progress our sustainability credentials, Damien O’Connor said.

“It’s a key part of our plan to help our farmers and growers maintain our competitive edge and deliver future economic security for all New Zealanders.”

At the start of 2020 the Government worked with Venture Taranaki – Taranaki’s regional development agency – to identify promising food and fibre opportunities in the region during phase one of the Branching Out project, Damien O’Connor said.

The Government is investing $975,000 into phase two of the project through SFF Futures alongside industry support worth $1.2m. This will result in six high-value commercial ventures in hemp fibre, medicinal ingredients, indigenous ingredients, hops, gin botanicals, and high-value food crops get off the ground.

“These ventures will diversify land uses, to increase the business resilience of local farmers and growers, and bring new employment opportunities to the region across the value chain.

“Phase two of Branching Out will undertake growing trials on farms and orchards, pilot product prototypes, and provide case studies as well as practical tools for implementation and ongoing support.”

Damien O’Connor said two new wool projects under SFF Futures aim to provide new high-value products and create new markets.

The Government is backing New Zealand Cashmere GP Limited to succeed in its vision to develop a new high-value, sustainable, and innovative cashmere industry for New Zealand’s agricultural and textile sectors. 

SFF Futures is investing $900,000 and sector partners contributing $1.34m.

New Zealand Cashmere GP is a specialist cashmere grower advisory company who are piloting their project in Otago and the North Island’s East Coast.

Six new farms are already signed up to integrate cashmere producing goats into their existing farming operations, and will join 19 others in the programme, Damien O’Connor said.

The project team will run workshops and talk to farmers at field days and roadshows about the potential opportunities of farming goats.

They would  also research optimal fibre genetics and look to establish a farm accreditation system for cashmere goats as they work to develop a new industry with international appeal, Damien O’Connor said.

He said he was also excited about the possibilities of the project led by Lof.

“We’re also supporting Studio Alida Limited, trading as Lof, to design knitted acoustic textile products from medium and strong wool. SFF Futures is investing $94,050 and Studio Alida $138,860,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Lof is a textile and product design innovator from Waiheke Island, who will use traceable, regenerative wool from Wairarapa’s Palliser Ridge farm for the project.”

Damien O’Connor said digital knitting technology was used primarily for premium cashmere and merino jerseys.

“This project will explore using the existing machinery to develop an entirely new interior textile product category, which could also be adopted by other designers for numerous products,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The project has the potential to increase the demand for, and price of, higher micron wool, and position New Zealand wool as a high-end product and material.”

The projects aligned with the goals of the Government and food and fibre sector roadmap Fit for a Better World, which aims to boost sustainability, productivity, and jobs over 10 years.

Source: Minister of Agriculture

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog