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Opportunities for Rural Diversification in Canterbury

Tags: Canterbury Rural

Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) has investigated the suitability of a variety of land uses through a report prepared by The AgriBusiness Group, which was released today.

CDC Chief Executive Tom Hooper said “the agriculture sector is critical to the strong growth in Canterbury’s underlying (non-rebuild) economy.  The aim of the research was to identify alternative categories of primary product that could be commercially viable in Canterbury for either export or as an import substitution.  The research focused on products that could also support increased processing activity adding further value to the regional and city economies.

“It is important for the rural sector as a whole to have as wide a range of options as possible available, as well as the traditional areas Canterbury is known for such as crop, sheep farming and, in more recent years, dairy farming.  Diversification will help minimise the risk to the economy as a whole if certain sectors are under pressure, such as the dairy industry at present with low milk prices and the effects of the drought starting to hit.”

Tom Hooper said, “the success of Christchurch’s economy is intrinsically linked with the region’s rural economy.

“If the rural sector is doing well it has a positive effect on many businesses within the city.  If it’s struggling, the same principle applies.  There needs to be a sustainable approach to both urban and rural economic development.”

This research as identified many products which offer sustainable growth, profit potential and production capability such as: pharmaceutical crops, sheep milk, honey and blackcurrants.

Tom Hooper said, “the key to all agricultural options was the need for a reliable supply of water and the products identified pre-dominantly had a lower impact on both water supply and quality.

“This is obviously desirable for the region.  The research was seen as a way to

Canterbury field with sheep

get the rural sector talking about alternatives and the resulting opportunities. In addition, there was likely to be added-value processing investment opportunities in Canterbury as a result of diversification.

“We already have one of the most technologically advanced agricultural sectors in the world.  Our soils and irrigation mean we are capable of very high yields of high quality pasture and crops on a reliable basis.  However, by diversifying what is produced in the region we are making sure we don’t have all our eggs in one basket and can grow in a sustainable way,” Tom said.

Source: Canterbury Development Corporation

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