NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand’s agriculture minister Damien O’Connor has launched a new US$40m-a-year scheme to grow the food and beverage industry sustainably and as a way to meet food and nutrition needs in the country.
The minister said the nation needed to move from ‘volume to value’ and this sector which delivered more than US$42 billion in export revenue last year, was critical in boosting New Zealand’s economy.
To ensure development while preserving natural resources, the government has created the Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures, or SFF Futures in collaboration with MPI investment programmes – the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).
“With a budget of US$40 million a year, SFF Futures provides a single gateway for farmers and growers to apply for investment in a greater range of projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits that grow through to all Kiwis.
“Targeted funding rounds may include projects focusing on specific outcomes, such as climate change or the environment.” O’Connor said.
Goat milk program
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd also hold a five-year, US$29.65 million PGP programme called Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ) that aims to strengthen the position of goats’ milk infant formula as the preferred alternative to conventional milk infant formula.
CAPRINZ recognises breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for babies and infants but advocates for supplementation with goat milk where breastfeeding is not enough.
It seeks to develop tools to enable New Zealand goat farmers to measure and improve their performance, while ensuring any economic gains don’t come at the expense of the rural environment.
The programme aims to increase dairy goat numbers in the long term by 50% to over 100,000, deliver economic benefits, create more than 400 new jobs on-farm, improve dairy goat farming practice and sustainable production, and boost capability across the industry.
“Because many dairy goat farm systems use o-paddock animal housing facilities there’s the opportunity to decrease the environmental impact of pastoral farming through conversions from other farming systems,” said Dairy Goat Cooperative chief executive David Hemara.
According to MPI director-general Martyn Dunne, the programme will also grow New Zealand’s research capability in the science of high-value nutrition and health, and establish a dairy goat research farm to deliver and trial its innovations.