That’s good news. The region is looking to get into the dry seed exporting business.
About 80% of NZ’s seed production, a $221 million business, is currently centred in the Canterbury region. Whilst NZ exports more than 30 different seed types internationally, pasture seed and vegetable seed are the key export categories.
Kānoa, the Government’s Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, will contribute $650,000 to support the construction, purchase and installation of a seed dryer. This specialist infrastructure will support the production of vegetable and cereal crop seeds destined for Asian and European markets.
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council will receive the funding from the Government on behalf of Kaikora Enterprises, a seed company based in Otāne.
Says Mayor Alex Walker, “This is really exciting for Central Hawke’s Bay. For some years now we’ve been exploring ways to encourage the move into high-value crops and identify opportunities for land diversification. We have a nationally significant concentration of highly productive soils that present a huge opportunity for food production in new ways. We look forward to working with Kaikora Enterprises to develop and share this technology with the wider district,” says Mayor Alex Walker.
Growing seed crops is seen as requiring minimal water and producing few emissions. The new seed dryer can dry four different crops at one time, allowing farmers more control over when they harvest for optimal germination and ensuring long shelf life of the dried seeds.
Kaikora Enterprises and CHBDC plan to have the facility operational for the 2024 harvesting season. The facility will be owned by Kaikora Enterprises who, along with the investment from Kanoa, are paying for the cost of construction and management of the facility.
CHBDC is receiving the funding from the Government on behalf of Kaikora Enterprises to ensure that the facility is developed and managed in a way that will benefit the district and so other producers can access the facility. Around $150,000 will also be given to Council to support the project and ensure wider economic, environmental and diversification.
Simon White of Kaikora Enterprises says that the new infrastructure, a four-bay drying shed, will allow harvesting of four different crops within a couple of days and will eliminate the risk of losing a crop to moisture. Having a facility locally also means growers will have a local option for drying their seeds, rather than having to ship their seeds for drying to other parts of New Zealand.
“The key thing for me is being part of a wider group of farmers and growers diversifying into high value cropping across Central Hawke’s Bay, where we have an excellent climate and a low risk of contamination by wild-growing species. Seed growing has big environmental benefits too. Besides the big factor of water efficiency, many crops – hemp for example – are effective sequesters of carbon,” says White.