New Zealanders involved in food production have a buoyant long term future once the current economic squeeze on the rural sector eases up, according to Agriculture Minister David Carter.
Speaking in the latest edition of Bayleys Real Estate’s Country magazine, Mr Cater said that with primary sectors generating around two-thirds of New Zealand’s merchandise export earnings, there was the sufficient scale, market share and well-developed supply chains to ensure true international competitiveness.
“As I see it, the world is facing two major challenges – climate change and feeding a growing population. It is common sense that food be produced in the most suitable locations, and by the most efficient producers. New Zealand can offer both of these in spades,” Mr Carter told Country magazine.
“This is reflected in where New Zealand agriculture stands globally. We are the largest dairy exporter in the world, a significant beef exporter, and the world’s biggest sheepmeat exporter.”
“Looking ahead, our food and fibre producing capability will be even more important because of a growing world population and increasingly scarce natural resources,” he added.
“Global population growth means that the world has to increase food production by 50 percent in the next 20 years. Coupled with this is the strong likelihood of economic growth in our key trading block of Asia-Pacific nations – and this can only mean better market access conditions for New Zealand agricultural products across the world.
“This is why I’m optimistic about the long-term outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector. The prospects remain good for the decade ahead as long as our producers stay on top of their game, remain innovative, are supported by government, and don’t allow standards to slip.”
Mr Carter said that as global trade continued to pick up from the troughs of the recession, countries would be examining their existing trade relationships, as well as looking for new trading opportunities.
“Keeping borders open to our goods is vital to our continued success. However, trade is a two-way street, and to gain access we need to give access,” he said.
Fresh water would also play a growing importance role for New Zealand, Mr Carter said.
“Water is possibly this country’s biggest competitive advantage, but a changing climate has meant that security of supply for activities like farming and horticulture – as well as the ability to meet the demand of towns and cities – is no longer a given,” he said.
“We’re lucky that we have an abundance of fresh water. But the problem is that it doesn’t always fall in the right place at the right time. This is why the Government is progressing water storage projects as a key priority, and why we see it as a major plank in our economic growth agenda.”
Agriculture Minister David Carter says the world will always need food and New Zealand is among the best in the world at producing that food.