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Forecast surge in primary exports a huge boon for Maori

Media release from Federation of Maori Authorities

Forecast surge in value of primary sector exports a huge boon for Maori Agri-business - Federation

21 February, 2014

A forecast 15% increase in earnings from primary sector exports to June 30 this year is a huge boon for the Maori agri-business sector, the Federation of Maori Authorities says.

The Ministry of Primary Industries announced this week that based on trends it believed there would be an additional $4.9 billion in earnings from agriculture, forestry and fishing exports in the year to June 30, based primarily on intensifying demand for dairy products, meat, pelts, wool, wood and seafood from China. The revised annual forecast is now $36.4 billion.

“That’s great news for Maori producers,” Federation of Maori Authorities’ CEO TeHoripo Karaitiana said. “They can now count on banking a lot more this year, and having a lot more financial discretion in their planning for the next few years.”

The revised forecast was announced by the Minister of Primary Industries, the Rt Hon Nathan Guy, at a Riddet Institute event in Parliament on Wednesday. He commented specifically about the significant increases in production in Maori agri-business in announcing the forecast.

The Riddet Institute commissioned report “A Call to Arms”, published in 2012, showed that Maori controlled 15% of national dairy production, 18-20% of beef and lamb production and 50% of all seafood production.

“That’s a lot of money flowing back into the coffers of Maori land-based trusts and incorporations,” Karaitiana said.

The Federation’s membership comprises a large proportion of Maori sheep, beef and dairy producers, as well as forestry owners – key benefactors from the upswing in demand from China.

Karaitiana said Federation’s key sector groupings now needed to think about establishing a more definitive export presence.

“The focus in recent years has been lifting the level and quality of production to the farm and orchard gate,” he said. “We now need to look at how we are represented beyond the farm gate and even further afield – including off shore. Through hard work we have achieved both scale and critical mass to be taken seriously as exporters.”

Karaitiana said what sets Maori producers apart “is our optimism and aspiration to grow”.

“Maori are expanding rapidly in dairy in particular and the pay-out rate is very good. Sectors growing to a lesser degree are horticulture, primarily Kiwifruit, and red meat. Fisheries are relatively stable. And all of this is set against a backdrop of a relatively high exchange rate.

“All this indicates a stronger economy but most importantly a growing business confidence. People are confident, to not only grow and expand but also to look further up value chains and at ways to innovate and differentiate.”

Karaitiana said there would be more evidence of this positive business mood when the Maori Business Barometer results are announced next month. The Federation has joined with the ANZ in developing the Barometer, and the first set of results provide great insights into the dynamism of Maori business.

ENDS

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