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Planting the seeds of crop diversification

20230830 Simon White Kaikora seeds sm

More healthy Hawke’s Bay salads and vegetables will be served up on the other side of the world thanks to a new way to dry seeds for export in Central Hawke’s Bay.

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.

Mayor Alex Walker said the investment by Kānoa fits well with Central Hawke’s Bay's economic vision of diverse, high value land use.

“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 for crops is a sustainable use of the region’s rich soils. Seed crops thrive on Hawke’s Bay sunshine, 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.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council will receive the funding from the Government on behalf of Kaikora Enterprises, a seed company based in Otāne. The investment by Kānoa will include funding for Council to support the project and ensure the district and wider region benefit from the facility.

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.

“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 Simon White.

Kānoa Hawke's Bay Principal Advisor, Cameron Osmond says: "We're pleased to support this opportunity for Central Hawke's Bay. While commercial seed production is not new to the region, this equipment provides an ongoing local solution so activity can really scale up. Businesses that decide to get into commercial seed growing will enjoy an alternative revenue source from their land, so it's a great outcome."

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. A Memorandum of Understanding with Kaikora will open the way to other farmers in the district to diversify into the seed crop market, where there is international demand for New Zealand crops.

14 September 2023

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