Govt launches “bold” primary sector plan to boost the economic recovery

The Government today launched what it is promoting as “a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade” while protecting the environment and growing jobs.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential, describing it as “a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value for a sector vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery”.

The Fit for a Better World Action Plan is based on three themes:

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

“Our primary sector is such a huge part of our economy and our brand. They’ve made significant strides to improve the sustainability of our products and practices. Fit for a Better World builds on that, and the potential that exists for us to go even further,” Jacinda Ardern said. 

“To further kick-start delivery of the roadmap we’re accelerating nearly $100 million via the flagship Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund and in forestry for innovative and creative projects.

“The Fit for a Better World Roadmap spells out practical ways for the sector to fetch more value, create more jobs and bolster our green reputation in a global pandemic environment to ensure New Zealand builds back better, together.

“The Government is already backing parts of the roadmap with more than $1.5 billion invested in freshwater quality, water storage, supporting exporters, reducing agriculture emissions, assisting farmer catchment groups, the One Billion Trees scheme, getting people into sector jobs, rural sector resilience and developing new high-value crops,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the sector’s ability to record 4.5 per cent growth to about $48 billion of exports in the past year despite COVID-19, highlighted demand for our top-quality products.

“However, as the Primary Sector Council’s Vision and Strategic Outlinealso released today says, we need to act quickly and boldly and can’t continue to rely on volume growth to generate greater returns,” Damien O’Connor said.

“We need to create new billion-dollar, category-leading products services for consumers here and overseas, while respecting Te Taiao – the natural world. 

“Our Fit for a Better World Roadmap builds on the work both primary industries and the Government have already started and brings together actions, investment, and resources that will work in concert to accelerate the transformation we need.

“Over the coming months we’ll be working with the sector on rolling it out. There is huge potential in this Roadmap but it can only be achieved through a close partnership with industry and Māori.”

Later this week Mr O’Connor will be releasing the Wool Industry Project Action Group’s report that sets the path for future growth of the country’s strong-wool sector.  This will also be a key part of delivering the Roadmap, he said.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said sustainable aquaculture presents massive growth potential.

“Aquaculture provides opportunities for regional employment and it can grow sustainably without compromising environmental and climate goals.

“The Government already has a clear strategy and plan to grow this sector five-fold to $3 billion by 2035, and the Fit for a Better World Roadmap will accelerate delivery of this strategy.’’

Forestry Minister Shane Jones said forestry offered an opportunity to reduce the economic reliance on non-renewable products.

“Opportunities exist within the wood processing sector to utilise existing and emerging technology to make better use of wood waste products and develop new domestic and export markets for more sustainable products. There are also opportunities to work with the sector to support greater use of wood in buildings.”

“We want make sure wood fibre products, which can be used to make biofuels or plastics substitutes can be used where-ever possible, as its better for our environment and forestry sector,” Shane Jones said.

At first blush, the agscience sector should get a slice of the action and benefit from the redirected funding – but let’s not rule out the prospect of the winners being offset by the losers.

Existing funding will be redirected to kick-start delivery of the Roadmap in two areas:

    • Bringing forward $84 million to upscale Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) to further boost innovation efforts.  This is on top of the $70 million available for the next two years.  SFF Futures supports problem-solving and innovation in New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors by co-investing in initiatives that make a positive and lasting difference, from small grassroots community projects to large-scale industry development.
    • Using $11.6 million from the One Billion Trees Fund to invest in the ‘Transforming Forestry and Wood Processing’ initiative.  This includes:
      • Developing an industry transformation plan for Forestry and Wood Processing sector, including industry engagement, market research, economic modelling, and developing a pathway for greater investment in value-added processing of logs in NZ
      • Supporting the development of new uses and markets for wood residues to help New Zealand meet its carbon reduction obligations.
      • Working with industry to improve the profitability and resilience of the sector by developing options to ‘co-locate’ complementary wood processing sites in regional manufacturing clusters.
      • Developing a virtual Centre of Excellence for Timber Design and Specification to help develop and grow new domestic and export markets.

The Fit for a Better World Roadmap incorporates initiatives the Government is already investing in. To support transformation, the Government has provided:

    • $122 million towards supporting farmer-led solutions as part of Government’s $229 million investment in Productive and Sustainable Land Use
    • $31 million to implement 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
    • $480 million in forestry, through the One Billion Trees and Crown Forestry Joint Venture Programme.

In Budget 2020, the Government has provided:

    • $111.2 million invested to provide support for rural and fishing communities, ensure the supply of food to New Zealanders and address animal welfare issues, address market access issue for horticulture, and attract New Zealanders to employment opportunities in the primary sector, made up of:
      • $5.4 million for critical resources to identify and manage animal welfare issues
      • $15 million to reduce food waste by redirecting food to people in need
      • $20.2 million to help rural and fishing communities recover from COVID-19
      • $25.3 million to attract and train recently unemployed New Zealanders
      • $45.3 million to fund secure containment for new imported plant varieties and breeding material that requires testing for pests, and to enable the introduction of imported plant material for the horticulture sector to develop new and innovative high-value crops and cultivars.

Significant investment has been allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund for water storage initiatives, at $134 million over the last two years, and in fencing waterways, water reticulation and riparian management, at $100 million

Additional information

The Fit for a Better World Roadmap is available here:

The Primary Sector Council’s report is available here:

The Te Taiao Framework and Pathways is available here:

The Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures Snapshot is available here:

The Government’s Aquaculture Strategy is available here:

Source:  The Government

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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