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HortNZ says Best Horticultural Land Not For Housing

HortNZ Calls For Best Horticultural Land
Not To Be Used For Housing

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS - Horticulture NZ fears NZ's best market gardening land may be buried under houses as subdivisions expand around Auckland, resulting in reduced vegetable supplies at higher prices.

Lobby groups like Greenpeace and Forest & Bird with chief executives who are former Green MPs are campaigning strongly on climate change, water pollution and “industrial dairying.” Now they have been joined by Gareth Morgan who along with Labour and the Greens is calling for charges on farmers using water.

As reported in Trans Tasman's sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, Chief Executive Mike Chapman says soils around Pukekohe in the south of Auckland City are volcanic clays and ash deposits with high fertility and free drainage.

He says land at Pukekohe is frost-free, allowing winter cropping, and less susceptible to disease than land further north, where it is warmer. “Pukekohe provides a significant quantity of NZ’s leafy greens, carrots and potatoes in the months of October, November and part of December. There is no substitute.”

HortNZ lobbying has resulted in small pockets of elite land across Auckland being protected. However, prime land has a lower level of protection "and this is a real concern.” Elite land, mainly in and around West Pukekohe, represents less than 1% (4397 ha) of land inside the city limits.

Land use capability classes 2 and 3 (prime land) represent 12% (55,356ha) and 15% (65,090ha) respectively. About 9% (10,399ha) of Auckland’s elite and prime land was converted to uses other than cropping from 1975 to 2012 with plans for much more development well advanced.

HortNZ is campaigning for NZ to have a food security plan, which will include safeguarding land for growing vegetables. Chapman says Kiwis “seem to think that because we are a net exporter of fresh fruit and vegetables we have no food security issues... [but] almost all of NZ’s vegetable production is consumed locally with around only 4% being exported.”

He says the inflation-adjusted price NZers pay for fruit and vegetables rose by 40% between 2006 and 2016 and will rise further if more market gardening land is lost. He has been speaking to the Govt for some time about the issues and HortNZ intends to raise them as an election issue.
Trans Tasman’s sister publication, The Main Report Farming Alert, is a weekly source providing you with in-depth news, analysis and opinion on NZ’s agriculture sectors.

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