Government commits nearly NZ$30m to accelerate the development and adoption of technologies in horticulture

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The recent New Zealand budget has delivered new funding to help the country’s horticulture sector harness the power of technology.

New Zealand minister for economic development, Barbara Edmonds, said the government was assisting the horticulture sector to build foundations for future growth and improved productivity as it recovers from Cyclone Gabrielle. 

“Today’s package includes NZ$29.9m to establish the Horticulture Technology Catalyst initiative, through the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan. This investment will allow horticulture technology experts to provide services such as business coaching and support to growers and the sector,” said Edmonds.

“We want to make it easier for New Zealand horticulture businesses to access global opportunities and share their knowledge with domestic partners.

“Through this initiative, services will be focused on improving industry connections, developing talent, working with firms and universities to tailor education to industry needs, and supporting businesses to commercialise their projects and research.” 

AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell welcomed the much-needed support that he said would drive higher paying jobs and new export revenues in the horticulture sector.

“Technology is both the solution to threats on growing food in Aotearoa New Zealand and the answer to injecting greater impetus into the New Zealand economy,” he said.

“This NZ$29.9m initiative will accelerate the development and adoption of technologies in horticultural and both position the sector for new levels of sustainable productivity and create a proving ground for the export of new technologies.”

The initiative aims to ensure companies can collaborate and provide services and support to growers and the sector in New Zealand as well as finding global opportunities that will fuel the investment required to solve some of the trickiest problems.

“New Zealand’s future will be limited if we just focus on the production of more food. Further prosperity will only come from commercialising the technology, systems and intellectual property that are not bound by the same constraints as our food systems. This is the double benefit of exporting our fruit and our technology too,” explained O’Connell.

“Taking this globally focussed approach to the development and proof of horticultural technologies in New Zealand justifies the levels of investment required to solve some of the biggest challenges faced by the sector. New Zealand can be both an originator and first adopter of great technologies, but unless they are focussed on global application they will be undercooked and uncompetitive. 

“We are pleased to see the Government recognises the importance the agri-tech industry can have on the country’s economic value as we see massive potential across multiple areas including labour, education and community development.”