>>ON THE FRONT

Grow­ers, keen to feed into new ex­port mar­kets, are fu­elling a re­newed op­ti­mism in agri­cul­ture.

The Orchardist - - Contents -

Hor­ti­cul­ture is part of New Zealand’s clean, green fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased last month which sug­gests tak­ing 1.5 mil­lion hectares of land from pas­toral farm­ing and con­vert­ing it to hor­ti­cul­ture. Story page 30. Cover graphic: Hope Walker.

That’s ac­cord­ing to a re­port com­mis­sioned by Globe NZ re­leased last month which sug­gests in the promis­ing ‘In­no­va­tive NZ’ sce­nario that 1.5 mil­lion hectares are taken from pas­toral farm­ing and con­verted to hor­ti­cul­ture by 2050. This would mean 1,400% more land for hor­ti­cul­ture.

The re­port – Net zero in New Zealand, sce­nar­ios to achieve do­mes­tic emis­sions neu­tral­ity in the sec­ond half of the cen­tury – states that live­stock numbers should be re­duced, and in one of three sce­nar­ios this frees up a to­tal of 3.2 mil­lion hectares for other uses, par­tic­u­larly hor­ti­cul­ture and trees.

World­wide there is a move­ment by con­sumers away from an­i­mal based prod­ucts, es­pe­cially by mil­len­ni­als.

New Zealand won’t meet cur­rent emis­sions tar­gets with ex­ist­ing land uses, the re­port says.

Agri­cul­ture ac­counts for al­most half of New Zealand’s to­tal emis­sions, pre­dom­i­nantly from en­teric fer­men­ta­tion in an­i­mals, high­light­ing the need to re­duce live­stock in gen­eral by 20% to 35%. Un­der the In­no­va­tive NZ sce­nario pre­sented in the re­port, emis­sions could be re­duced by 65% to 75% by 2050 with a move­ment in land use to hor­ti­cul­ture and forestry.

The cur­rent car­bon price is $17 per unit, how­ever by 2050 the study pre­dicts a medium price range of $50 to $100 mean­ing in­creased en­ergy and in­put costs for grow­ers.

Hort NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Chap­man says the re­port’s con­clu­sions con­firm what Hort NZ has been say­ing for some time about the growth and po­ten­tial of hor­ti­cul­ture in New Zealand.

He is how­ever con­cerned about the in­creas­ing price of car­bon ex­pected at the extreme to be more than five times to­day’s price and how that will af­fect some grow­ing op­er­a­tions. More needs to be done to ac­com­mo­date these grow­ers, and help their busi­nesses pros­per in a low car­bon fu­ture.

“The promis­ing In­no­va­tive NZ sce­nario sup­ports our poli­cies around land and wa­ter use, and food se­cu­rity, as well as our in­dus­try pro­file of inter-gen­er­a­tional sus­tain­able use of the en­vi­ron­ment.

“This sce­nario is a holis­tic ap­proach to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity com­ple­ment­ing our ex­ist­ing prac­tices.”

The re­port was pre­pared by Vivid Eco­nom­ics for GLOBENZ, com­pris­ing a cross-party group of 35 mem­bers drawn from all po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

Rabobank says 2017 has be­gun on a pos­i­tive note for the coun­try’s farm­ers, with ru­ral con­fi­dence lev­els edg­ing up, pri­mar­ily driven by signs of re­newed op­ti­mism among hor­ti­cul­ture and beef and sheep pro­duc­ers.

Rabobank New Zealand gen­eral man­ager for coun­try bank­ing Hay­ley Moyni­han said hor­ti­cul­ture pro­duc­ers and sheep and beef farm­ers had shown signs of in­creas­ing op­ti­mism about the agri­cul­tural econ­omy. The over­all net con­fi­dence read­ing in the hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tor climbed from +26% to +39%, while among the sheep and beef sec­tor, con­fi­dence moved out of neg­a­tive ter­ri­tory, from -5% to +9%.

“There has been cause of op­ti­mism across these sec­tors re­cently,” she said. “Hor­ti­cul­ture had an ex­cep­tional year of pro­duc­tion and ex­port growth in 2016, and a sim­i­lar per­for­mance is ex­pected in 2017.”

Hor­ti­cul­ture pro­duc­ers were in­creas­ingly op­ti­mistic in their ex­pec­ta­tions about busi­ness per­for­mance with the net mea­sure climb­ing from +19% last sur­vey to +44%. “Ris­ing de­mand from Asian mar­kets con­tin­ues to be a key source of growth for hor­ti­cul­ture ex­ports – and this de­mand is be­ing met by large har­vests of gold ki­wifruit com­ing on­line and a record crop ex­pected from ap­ple grow­ers this year,” Ms Moyni­han said.

Farmer in­vest­ment in­ten­tions in­creased fur­ther this quar­ter, and are at the high­est level since the end of 2014. The num­ber of farm­ers ex­pect­ing to in­vest more in their busi­nesses in the next 12 months rose to 31% (up from 28%), while those in­tend­ing to re­duce in­vest­ment de­clined to just 7%.

Ex­pan­sion plans in hor­ti­cul­ture are see­ing this sec­tor, in par­tic­u­lar, lead the in­vest­ment charge, Ms Moyni­han said.

“On the back of strong busi­ness op­ti­mism, plant­ing and re-plant­ing of new or­chards is tak­ing place in prin­ci­pal hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tors with the aim of feed­ing into new ex­port mar­kets,” she said.

“Hor­ti­cul­ture had an ex­cep­tional year of pro­duc­tion and ex­port growth in 2016, and a sim­i­lar per­for­mance is ex­pected in 2017.”

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