23 MAY 2023 – ANNOUNCEMENT: The recent New Zealand Government Wellbeing Budget provides much needed support that will drive higher paying jobs and new export revenues in the horticulture sector says AgriTechNZ Chief Executive Brendan O’Connell.
“Technology is both the solution to threats on growing food in Aotearoa New Zealand and the answer to injecting greater impetus into the New Zealand economy.”
“This $29.9million initiative will accelerate the development and adoption of technologies in horticultural and both position the sector for new levels of sustainable productivity and create a proving ground for the export of new technologies.”
The Horticulture Technology Catalyst initiative was created through the Government’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) with a goal to grow the size and impact of agritech businesses in New Zealand and globally.
The initiative aims to ensure companies can collaborate and provide services and support to growers and the sector here in New Zealand as well as finding global opportunities that will fuel the investment required to solve some of the trickiest problems.
“New Zealand’s future will be limited if we just focus on the production of more food. Further prosperity will only come from commercialising the technology, systems and intellectual property that are not bound by the same constraints as our food systems. This is the double benefit of exporting our fruit and our technology too,” explains Mr O’Connell.
“Taking this globally focussed approach to the development and proof of horticultural technologies in New Zealand justifies the levels of investment required to solve some of the biggest challenges faced by the sector. New Zealand can be both an originator and first adopter of great technologies, but unless they are focussed on global application they will be undercooked and uncompetitive.”
“We are pleased to see the Government recognises the importance the agritech industry can have on the country’s economic value as we see massive potential across multiple areas including labour, education and community development.”
New Zealand’s current ecosystem of horticulture technology skills covers growers, technology innovators, researchers, and investors. In addition to the food brands having global impact, e.g., Zespri, Rockit, Jazz, Enza and Miro there are a growing number of technology brands forging the New Zealand reputation in global horticulture. This includes Bluelab, Robotics Plus, Hectre, WayBeyond, Cropsy and Croptide.
International figures estimate the automated harvesting of a crop requires approximately $US100m research and development funding, per crop type. Harvesting is just one challenge, highlighting the need to ensure appropriate levels of capital are raised to grow globally relevant technology solutions in New Zealand.