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Budget boost to irrigation funding welcomed

Budget boost to irrigation funding welcomed as 'circuit breaker'

22 January 2013. WELLINGTON: “New Zealand is extraordinarily water rich, but we only capture and use about two per cent of annual water runoff, which is absolutely miniscule by international standards,” Water New Zealand Chief Executive, Murray Gibb said in welcoming the decision announced today by outgoing Primary Industries Minister, David Carter. He said Government would earmark $80 million to fund irrigation schemes in the 2013 Budget.

“Large scale off-farm harvesting, storage and distribution water infrastructure for irrigation comes with a hefty price tag. The funding announced today is likely to be a deal maker, bringing planned schemes to fruition. This has to be good news for the New Zealand economy Murray Gibb says.

“Our tradable sector is in the main biologically based, and provides our competitive advantage in an increasingly resource constrained world. If New Zealand wants to compete internationally it has to grow this sector of its economy as a percentage of GDP,” he said.

“Close to half a million hectares of dryland farmland in drier eastern parts of New Zealand could be irrigated. Across the globe the rule of thumb for irrigated land is a 300 per cent increase in production over its dryland equivalent. And, more reliable watering means better quality production and a doubling again of the value of output. Having more of that going on in New Zealand is just makes plain common sense,”

“The challenge for irrigators in realising New Zealand’s irrigation potential is in funding the capital cost of both on farm and off farm infrastructure. Having the Government commit this funding as an investor will be a circuit breaker and all New Zealanders will benefit,” said Mr Gibb.

Ends

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