A concept titled ‘The Green Diamond’ based on the United States’ Silicon Valley, is aiming to push Canterbury onto the world’s stage for its agricultural excellence.
Mid-Canterbury agribusiness consultant Andy McFarlane, ANZCO founder Sir Graeme Harrison and a group of agribusiness stakeholders, including Ngai Tahu are working together to get the concept off the ground.
The title refers to the land area with which the concept encompasses, South Canterbury, the east and west sides of the Selwyn District and Christchurch forming with top of the diamond with its air and port services.
“The objective is to create international momentum in collective strength," McFarlane said.
“There is huge redevelopment going on with the two inland port hubs at Rolleston.
“The Port of Lyttelton and PrimePort Timaru, the Lincoln Agri Hub, science, water technology, arable production and dairy are all part of the opportunity,” he said.
“It’s big logistics and huge opportunity.
“Ashburton is furthest on in terms of the impact of water. There's confidence in a very big primary processing area.
“Mid Canterbury is at the front end of precision agriculture, that's the exciting bit.
The Silicon Valley is the mindset. We have the innovation and IT to focus this area, not just in the production of food but also what we do with food. "
“We can be the food bowl of Asia," Macfarlane said.
The way people were buying was changing and Canterbury was in prime position to meet the change.
“We are sitting on massive opportunity, all in our own patch. We are doing good things, we have the raw materials, the soils, climate, water, we just need collective momentum to push the concept and take it forward," Macfarlane said.
“We need capital cash and entrepreneurs who want to live here.
“If we can promote overseas collectively it would bring a lot more shunt internationally.”
McFarlane wants to use smart production to make the world aware of the assets available in the region, highlighting the agricultural offerings outside of dairy and processing.
"The perception may well be it's wall to wall dairy. That's definitely not the case,” Macfarlane said.
Ashburton produces about 50% of the world’s carrot, radish and red beet seeds.
“It’s not all just processing either. We have phenomenal advancement in secondary processing, added-value in the likes of hybrid seed and meat.”
Creating the brand was about building on the momentum or the investment happening in the region across virtually all sectors of agricultural production.
“There was a need for more investment and to ensure them was wealth created within the area for those on the ground floor of production," Macfarlane said.
“This is a powerful conversation around a provincial brand, building strong partnerships with capital cash that will retain profit while getting international recognition.
“We have to get the mix right. The better we can do this the better we can return.”
The group of mid Canterbury businessmen were “socialising” the Green Diamond concept to ensure buy and to get it off the ground.
“Canterbury can be the Silicon Valley of the States. The wider Canterbury economy is in great shape with potential for further growth, particularly as more irrigation schemes come on line.
“We are escalating the conversation now, presenting it to business communities and councils around the region and starting to get the push happening,” Macfarlane said.
Source: The NZ Farmers Weekly