Talking business with Anthony Haas

Grant Robertson

Finance minister’s suggestions for Wairarapa

Value added agriculture: Is this what the Wairarapa wants?

Finance minister Grant Robertson thinks the Wairarapa region could sensibly develop market led value added agricultural enterprises.

The Labour minister accentuated agricultural opportunities in the region’s development, during an interview for the Talking business column after his April 2018 pre-budget speech to the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce.

Robertson volunteered that Wairarapa mayors should work together to present regional development proposals. “What I don’t want is, say, three or four Mayors decide that they are going to come individually to us”. “The critical element, is that we see a wider plan”, the senior Jacinda Ardern government minister said.

“The biggest thing for me is making sure that whatever emerges out of this region is the thing that we can put in front of NZ First minister Shane Jones and the $1 billion Fund and say this is what the region wants. If you do that, you’ll be way ahead.” “From the point of view of this region, Robertson said of the Wairarapa “I think it’s well poised to benefit from this Fund”.

 

Intersection of technology and agriculture.

“I’m talking about advanced manufacturing, adding technological value to what you already do, making sure that you’re producing the highest value, highest quality food, and finding the new niche markets.”

Robertson said “There’s a company in the Wairarapa called Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats, which is doing an amazing thing working with export firms and exporters working with customer groups in Japan and China finding out what they actually want”.

“Because the Wairarapa produces food so very, very well, it feels to me that the Wairarapa story should be about ‘our region that produces the highest quality, cleanest food in the world’. If I was writing the value proposition for Wairarapa, that’s what it would be. That’s about using technology, it’s about getting better market understanding, all of those things.”

“I know kiwifruit doesn’t work here, but this is what Zespri do very, very well. They get into the medicinal part of the product and ask what Chinese consumers want….the health benefits of kiwifruit and putting that into different forms – chewable tablets or whatever the consumer wants.”

“We had a fascinating meeting, just after we came into Government where we brought in the heads of agricultural and horticultural organisations and one of them said New Zealand will never be able to feed the whole world because we’re just not big enough to do that, but we can feed tens of millions of people, or hundreds of millions of people, really well.”

“And that’s the thing we should be doing, that’s the proposition.”

Take climate change seriously

“And that’s why, as I was saying today, all of those environmental things matter – because they’re part of what we’re selling the world. And so if we can sell to the world on the basis that we’re really are clean and green, that we are taking climate change seriously:  we should do those things anyway because they’re good for our environment – but actually they add to what we’re doing economically.”

ahaas@decisionmaker.co.nz

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