New Zealand Aerial view fields landscape

Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) has warned of the impacts on the country’s food security if farming land is not protected from housing development.

The industry body has called on the New Zealand government to protect highly productive land as it looks for solutions to the country’s housing shortage.

Mike Chapman, chief executive of HortNZ, said the government needed to find the right balance but ensure there was enough area for fruit and vegetable production.

“While it’s great that the government is trying to do something to improve housing supply by making land more available through reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the New Zealanders who will live in those houses will also want fresh vegetables and fruit to eat at appropriate prices,’ said Chapman.

“Reports that urban sprawl looks set to eat up to 31,270ha of Auckland's most productive land over the next 35 years make distressing and dispiriting reading.”

Chapman said New Zealand consumers could be faced with significant rises in the cost of their fruits and vegetables if the industry was not accounted for.

“Part of New Zealand’s overall plan to house people and respond to climate change needs to be a plan to feed people fresh, healthy locally-grown vegetables and fruit, at appropriate prices,” Chapman said.

“If feeding New Zealanders and offering them food security is not part of the country’s plan, New Zealand’s health statistics will get worse, and vegetables and fruit will become unaffordable.

“Indeed,Deloitte has estimated that New Zealand consumers could face price increasesas high as 58 per cent by 2043 if vegetable production does not increase.”