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Agriculture Is The Backbone Of New Zealand: Sutton

The primary production sector has a key role to play in the economic transformation of New Zealand, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

He told the Primary Resources Forum at Lincoln University that agriculture was influential in the Government's policy for developing a knowledge society.

"Agriculture is a dynamic sector. It is at the leading edge of innovation and technology adaption. When we talk about a knowledge-driven society or the knowledge economy - we're talking about agriculture.

"Even Peter Drucker, who came up with the phrase "knowledge economy", acknowledged that agriculture is one of the most knowledge-intensive sectors there is.

"Over the past 15 years or so, since farm subsidies and price supports were abolished, the average annual gain in productivity in agriculture has been 3.9 per cent - for our economy as a whole, 1.1 per cent."

Mr Sutton said people in the primary production sector would be important leaders of debate in the build-up to the Catching the Knowledge Wave conference in Auckland in August.

He said New Zealand's traditional industries - particularly those in the primary production sector - would always remain our strength.

"People in New Zealand agriculture, horticulture, and forestry have been the people quickest to take up new technology, the fastest to adapt developments to their needs, and the swiftest to innovate to develop things that no-one else has come up with."

Mr Sutton said agriculture, horticulture, and forestry were the backbone of the New Zealand economy.

" For the year to March this year, the value of total pastoral exports is estimated by MAF to rise by 28 per cent to $12.1 billion. Over the same period, forestry exports are estimated to rise 21 per cent to $3.4 billion."

MAF estimates that for the year to March this year, the contribution of agriculture to gross domestic product will increase to about 6.1 per cent, due to higher production volumes - particularly in dairy - and higher farmgate prices. When associated manufacturing and processing industries reliant on agricultural production are included in those figures, the total contribution to GDP is about 15 per cent.

The agricultural, horticultural, and forestry sectors cover 57 per cent of New Zealand's land area, produce more than 60 per cent of our export earnings, and employ about 240,000 people.

Ends


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