29 November 2018
The Government’s Provincial Growth Fund has approved funding of $35,000 towards investigations into the commercial upscaling of floriculture and medicinal plants in the Whanganui and Rangitikei districts.
Along with initial funding from Whanganui District Council, Rangitikei District Council and Whanganui & Partners, the government contribution brings the total value of the project to $50,000.
Rangitikei District Council and Whanganui & Partners (Whanganui District Council’s economic development arm) hosted two land-use diversification workshops in Whanganui and Rangitikei in early September this year. Floriculture and medicinal plants were identified initially as economic opportunities because they are premium commercial crops currently already grown in the region at small scale, and they do not require large blocks of land or major capital investment for entry.
Whanganui & Partners’ Deputy Board Chair Susanne Clay says the scope of this initial project is focused on reviewing and collating information generated from previous studies and socialising the opportunity with key stakeholders.
She says, “We will be including detail on feasibility matters such as the basic business entry requirements and risks, training and an overview of the market and trends - and confirm any potential compliance or biosecurity issues.
“Once complete, the findings from the study will be presented through a range of events and media including workshops with key stakeholders and interested growers. We will then scope out preparation for subsequent funding applications to conduct pilot studies and develop business cases for implementation.”
Wanganui Rural Community Board Deputy Chair Grant Skilton says the Board fully supports the feasibility study.
He says, “If we are going to retain our local service industries and infrastructure that we currently rely upon, we need economic growth well beyond the status quo and need to think of innovative ways for our region to prosper. Support for specialised horticultural crops is one way to encourage that growth.”
Rangitikei District Council Chief Executive, Ross McNeil, says the project aligns well with the Manawatū-Whanganui Growth Study, and will directly contribute to delivering on the Land Use Optimisation key opportunity in Accelerate25, the Action Plan for the Growth Study.
“We look forward to working with Whanganui District Council/Whanganui and Partners and local/regional stakeholders in taking this land use optimisation scoping project forward.”
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall says he acknowledges Susanne Clay and Whanganui & Partners for their extraordinary work.
He says, “It’s really exciting to be able to use more of our best soils to grow high value crops, something we’ve wanted to see since the change to rural planning rules introduced by the Council in 2015. I am looking forward to how this injection of funding can help us diversify what we are already growing in the Whanganui and Rangitikei districts.”