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Funding for irrigation unlocks potential


FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016

Funding for irrigation unlocks potential

Irrigation New Zealand applauds the latest announcement by Government sighting three more grants by the Irrigation Acceleration Fund – $804,000 for the Wairarapa Water Use Project, $575,000 for Ruataniwha (Hawke’s Bay) and $250,000 for Gisborne’s Managed Aquifer Recharge Trial.

“It’s great to see the Irrigation Acceleration Fund delivering on what it was set up to do – supporting the potential for irrigated agriculture to contribute to New Zealand’s sustainable economic growth,” says Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop.

“Water is the limiting factor. Even the best dry-land farming systems and farmers are still limited by soil moisture – rain dances just don’t cut the mustard when drought hits year after year. Irrigation brings confidence and security to the primary sector and this flows on to New Zealand Inc’s overall wellbeing.

“It’s great to have a Government that thinks big and understands is its not easy for small, rural communities to raise the capital needed for irrigation infrastructure investigations and development. We know irrigation benefits the entire community and the Irrigation Acceleration Fund’s investments will ensure developments are achievable and sustainable for the communities that drive them,” says Mrs Hyslop.

“At a time when the dairy industry is hurting it’s important we take a long-term view to ensure the best use of our water resources, while also maximizing advantages for regional communities.

“What is often overlooked is that irrigation is not solely about supporting dairy farming. A myriad of other land uses including horticulture, viticulture, small seeds and vegetables and sheep and beef can also rely on irrigation for consistent production.

“Developments also augment rivers and top up aquifers, they tackle the environmental legacies of farming, industry and population growth by boosting water supply and ensuring consistent river flows. In many areas water storage also provides recreational opportunities like new kayaking, boating and fishing destinations. Finally, irrigation developments contribute to socio-economic growth regionally. A recent report by NZIER found that irrigation contributes $2.2 billion to the national economy and this has the potential to increase further.

“Benefits are clear in places like Canterbury and Otago where irrigation schemes such as Central Plains Water, Valetta, Ashburton Lyndhurst and North Otago Irrigation Company with support from the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund, have successfully delivered modern, piped irrigation schemes which bring multiple benefits to the area," Mrs Hyslop concludes.

The Irrigation Acceleration Fund was set up in 2011 to invest $35 million over a five year period (2011/12 to 2015/16) in irrigation development and had an injection of a further $25 million in last year’s budget.

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