New Zealand urgently needs a vision and a strategic plan for its agribusiness sector, says Agriculture and Associate Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.
His comments follow the release of MPI’s latest Situation and Outlook report for Primary Industries (SOPI), which points to overall continuing growth in most primary sectors, but a shortfall on earlier predictions due to climate issues and a flattening of dairy prices.
O’Connor says in future reports he would want to see success as trends that show a lower volume of exports but higher returns. He says for too long the focus has been on the wrong numbers.
“This has been the focus of all sectors,” he told Rural News. “For example, forestry: we are increasingly exporting more and more logs.
“All the sectors have potential to extract greater value from what they do now and I want to work with them to clarify and identify [potential for] increasing value from what may be flat production levels.”
O’Connor says the dairy sector has reduced cow numbers yet retained production and profit; this has proven an option for some farmers. He also points to progress in the horticulture sector.
“By its nature [hort] is focused on the consumer and that discipline has better enabled them to respond to international trends and consumer preferences. All other sectors can learn more from that and we have to ensure the structure within NZ facilitates that focus and growth,” he says.