A new research programme being co-funded by the New Zealand government and a Chinese-owned seed company sets out to improve seed and plant species for farmers, improve animal productivity and minimise environmental impacts.
Wayne McNee, director-general of the Ministry for Primary Industries, on Thursday announced funding for the Seed and Nutritional Technology Development programme through Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), a government-industry initiative launched to bolster research and innovation.
Proprietary seed company PGG Wrightson Seeds will lead the programme and work alongside a number of research organisations.
Multi-million state commitment
The PGP is committing NZ$7.15mn over six years out of a programme worth NZ$14.6mn in total.
“The Seed and Nutritional Technology Development programme works on many fronts to ensure farmers will have access to the best pasture and forage crop technologies,” McNee said.
“We are pleased to see innovative approaches that will address current challenges, such as improving feed conversion efficiency, as well as taking the opportunity to mitigate environmental challenges such as soil erosion and drought stress.”
Derek Woodfield, general manager for R&D at PGG Wrightson Seeds, welcomed the funding. “It will allow us and our research partners to focus on delivering a suite of new technologies that will keep New Zealand farmers internationally competitive.”
Primary industries minister David Carter said that the programme had raised the total allocated PGP funding to around NZ$600mn.
‘Kiwis stand to gain’
“In just three years, the PGP program has worked with industry to develop some of the most exciting primary sector research and innovation proposals New Zealand has ever seen,” he said.
PGP programmes currently underway cover the wool, red meat, dairy, seafood, manuka honey and forestry sectors.
“Every New Zealander stands to gain from innovative investment in the primary sector because our food, fishing, fibre and forestry industries are pivotal to the success of the economy,” Carter said.
PGG Wrightson is controlled by Agria Corporation, a China-based agriculture company with operations in China and across the world.
Agria has a majority stake in New Zealand's largest agricultural services company, which according to its most recent annual report, has a turnover of NZ$1.33bn.