Seed exports rise in value

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 06:55 07/02/2014
Seed harvesting.
Fairfax NZ

HIGH-VALUE CROPS: Seed growers boosted export earnings in a sector expecting more growth.

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Seed exports rose in value to $192 million with many of the high value crops grown from the food bowl of Canterbury.

Radish, carrots, ryegrass and white and red clover were some of the export seed crops grown, many of them in Canterbury and particularly Mid Canterbury, and exported to more than 60 world markets.

Their total value rose $24m, up 14 per cent from the previous year, according to the latest results from Statistics New Zealand.

Herbage seed from rye grass, clover and other grasses accounted for 53 per cent of total seed exports by value and vegetable seed crops had a 47 per cent share.

Australia is the largest market for New Zealand- grown pasture seed and accounted for 16 per cent of total shipments.

Northern hemisphere markets were also important for vegetable seeds and Asian sales were steady and showing good growth opportunities. The Netherlands is the top export market by value for carrots, radish and other vegetable seeds.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said growers, processors and exporters had every reason to be pleased with the latest export data.

"These are high value goods helping move New Zealand agriculture beyond the traditional mix of meat and dairy products."

The industry continued to work with government trade officials to regain brassica seed access to China as soon as possible, said Chin.

"Our capacity to supply the Chinese market, which has significant growth potential, has been hampered by China's ban on New Zealand brassica seed imports following the 2011 detection of blackleg, a pest which ironically is also present in China."

Before the blackleg clampdown the Chinese market for brassica seed was worth $4 million a year to seed producers and growing.

Future industry growth will continue to be driven through developing new crops, focusing on high value speciality seed products and securing new markets. Chin said New Zealand was a world leader in seed multiplication and its strong export performance was consistent with the Government's business growth agenda and its goal to increase the ratio of exports to GDP from the current 30 per cent to 40 per cent by 2025.

"Recent announcements regarding trade agreements with Taiwan, continuing talks with South Korea, and Columbia and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have lifted the seed sector's confidence in future growth opportunities."

He said seed production for overseas sales would continue to be big business for New Zealand.

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