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PM opens new $3.9 million research facility

A new $3.9 million plant protection research facility for Crop & Food Research was formally opened by the Prime Minister Helen Clark at Lincoln near Christchurch today.

Speaking at the opening, Crop & Food Research chairman Richard Bentley underlined the importance of research into effective pest and disease control to the New Zealand economy.

"Pests and diseases cause problems in every crop in New Zealand. One recent estimate put the damage from insects feeding on plants at $880 million per year.

"Today we are celebrating the investment of $3.9 million in a state-of-the-art plant protection research facility that will ensure we can continue to provide the science needed to support our arable and vegetable crop farmers."

Horticulture is a $2.2 billion export industry for New Zealand, with exports of vegetables alone amounting to $500 million annually. "In addition, more than 90% of New Zealand's grain crops are grown in Canterbury and they provide the raw materials for exports of more than $115 million of arable-based foods."

Crop & Food Research is the country's leading research provider on pests and diseases of arable and vegetable crops.

"Over the last decade, the amount of research being undertaken by our plant protection scientists has grown. We have had more government funding into this area of research, and we have developed strong industry relationships which have flowed through to more work."

Mr Bentley says the new building brings together the company's plant pathology and entomology teams and provides excellent facilities for strong collaborative work. The range of work includes research programmes which are nationally important and support the growth of the arable and vegetable sectors. These sectors provide the quality raw materials on which the country's food manufacturers and exporters depend.

"It is with great pleasure that we welcome the Prime Minister to Lincoln today and be assured, our commitment to deliver quality science and technology of value for New Zealand farmers and food processors is stronger than ever."

ENDS

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