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Agritech Sector Focuses On Even Faster Growth

28 February 2002

High Performing Agritech Sector Focuses On Even Faster Growth

Representatives of the agricultural technology sector, whose foreign exchange earnings have leapt two and a half times over the last nine years, are to meet government officials tomorrow morning (March 1) to put together a strategy to help grow exports even faster.

The agricultural technology (agritech) strategy workshop, to be held at Ruakura Crown Research Institute campus, will be opened by Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton. The workshop is being organised and funded by Industry New Zealand, the government’s economic development agency.

“The aim of the strategy is to at least double the sector’s annual export earnings to $1.2 billion within the next five years,” said Harold Williams, Industry New Zealand Sector Director – Niche Manufacturing. “That’s $200 million more than what the sector would achieve on current growth rates.

“Agritech clearly has massive growth potential,” he said. “The government wants to form a partnership with the agritech sector to make sure it realises that potential.”

“What we want to do at the workshop is identify the barriers to further sector growth and find possible ways through or around these barriers,” he said.

Issues could include industry training, research and development and industry representation.

Mr Williams said the government was not offering more resources to the agritech sector, but a more focused use of existing government resources such as in training, access to capital, research and development and export promotion.

“The work carried out by Trade New Zealand in export promotion is a good example of the positive impact government can make by bringing its resources to bear,” he said.

Between 1992 and last year, the agritech sector lifted foreign exchange earnings from $240 million in 1992 to $606 million in 2001.

David Powell, Trade New Zealand’s Sector Manager, Agritech & Life Sciences, says the significant growth in foreign exchange earnings in the agritech sector is the result of “excellent companies and products combined with joint industry action initiated by Trade New Zealand”.

“New Zealand agritech companies consistently come up with a range of innovative and ground-breaking solutions for the farming sector,” Mr Powell said. “An agritech-government sector partnership, including Trade New Zealand continuing its current support and Industry New Zealand bringing in its resources, will see the sector grow at a faster rate.”

Mr Williams said there are “many well focussed and innovative agritech companies and they clearly as a group have the ability to hit the $1.2 billion foreign exchange earnings target”.

Editor’s note

What: Agritech Strategy Workshop

Where: McMeekan Centre, Crown Research Institute Campus, Ruakura

Who: Agritech businesses have evolved out of New Zealand world-leading pastoral farming. They include agricultural aircraft makers, electric fence manufacturers, pasture seeds, animal feeds, breeding animals, fertilisers, genetic material, agricultural machinery makers, on-farm machinery, and veterinary supplies. About 75 percent of the businesses are in the dairy industry.

When: Friday, 1 March, 2002. 9am – 5pm

The Minister will be speaking 9am – 9.30am.

(Media can only stay for Minister’s speech)

Ends/…

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