Monday, 16 September 2019 09:13

Dairy farm to be converted to kiwifruit

Written by  Pam Tipa
Craigmore Sustainable chief executive Che Charteris. Craigmore Sustainable chief executive Che Charteris.

Craigmore Sustainables will invest $38 million to convert 137ha of established dairy farm at Kerikeri into a kiwifruit orchard.

This will increase local kiwifruit production by at least one third and create 29 fulltime equivalent jobs. The project is approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

Craigmore Sustainables is a New Zealand owned and controlled business set up to help fund development and grow regional NZ food and fibre businesses. While it mostly uses European funding sources, Craigmore appoints and employs local NZ management and governance for every business.

The Kerikeri move follows recent approval from the OIO to buy land in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne where Craigmore is investing $52m to develop apple orchards which will offer almost 100 fulltime equivalent jobs. It expects to boost NZ exports by $30m.

Craigmore Sustainables chief executive Che Charteris says these investments are part of the company’s Permanent Crop business which is expanding and diversifying horticulture in key central and northern regions.

“NZ’s horticulture sector is a world leader in many areas, with exports growing at 7% per annum for the past 20 years, bringing with it increased regional development and employment,” said Charteris.

“Our focus is to build the best NZ orchards producing top-selling fruits that include kiwifruit, apples, wine grapes, plus emerging crops such as cherries and avocados.”

Charteris says access to capital is a barrier to realising the full potential of horticulture. Through its Permanent Crop Partnership, Craigmore is building at least $200m of horticultural businesses, many being orchard conversions from pastoral land.

“One of our core sustainability values is ‘right land, right use’. NZ has vast areas well suited to grazing livestock, but some areas should be converted to horticulture and forestry.”

Craigmore still has about $50m to invest and is looking to buy minority stakes in existing horticultural businesses to help them grow.

“This is helping diversify the economy and create significant gains for regional communities as well as helping address soil and water challenges, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Charteris.

“With the Kerikeri land, for example, we’ll be planting riparian areas around the orchards, with indigenous species to provide a buffer to waterways from sediment, nutrient and other runoff and to provide corridors for wildlife movement.

“We are generating 10 times the benefits by farming only half of the land.”

Charteris says Craigmore has strong support from the local council as well as local growers, packagers and exporters who can build their businesses alongside the developments.

“Ultimately, at a time of growing consumer demand for sustainable products and wider societal standards for managing farmland, Craigmore Sustainables’ mission is to support NZ’s reputation as a premium food and fibre supplier in a way that spreads the benefits across the regions of Aotearoa.”

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