A report by Lincoln University identifies a number of future opportunities for Taranaki’s horticultural sector and land use.
The review, commissioned by regional development agency Venture Taranaki, found that the region’s horticultural sector has contracted considerably over the last decade, despite its fertile soil and climate.
“While it is widely acknowledged that you can grow almost anything in Taranaki, the reality is that competing land use demands and commercial viability have challenged the region’s horticultural sector,” says Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Stuart Trundle.
“One of the roles of a regional development agency is to identify and investigate new opportunities to rebuild this potentially innovative and valuable sector, and that is what our team has done in this report.”
“In order to foster a robust regional economy, we must look to build a diversified portfolio of industries. A strong and sustainable horticultural sector builds on our region’s physical advantages, ensuring we can maximise the value of some of our less-productive land.”
Lincoln University researchers reviewed the historic development of horticulture in Taranaki and found that its growth has been constrained by factors ranging from the strength of existing key sectors; a balance of lifestyle and commercial drivers; limited coordinated access to infrastructure; and land prices that reflect the value of the land for dairying and small holdings
The report identifies potential projects for Venture Taranaki that include telling existing success stories; helping horticultural companies to access funding and assistance sources; facilitate access to broader infrastructure, such as transport; help foster industry clusters to maximise opportunities in emerging industries; and working with the dairying sector to diversify land use.
Two emerging primary sector industries that appeared to offer opportunities for diversification were the growth of Manuka for the production of Manuka honey and industrial hemp production for housing and other end-uses.
“The report highlights the opportunity for regional development strategy to concentrate on emerging primary sector enterprises in Taranaki,” researchers from Lincoln University concluded.
“Ensuring these sectors are supported in their efforts to secure necessary funding and information, and to develop networks, would encourage the development of horticulture and novel land-based industries in the region.”