China city farmers see similarities

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 08/07/2014
Richard King
FAIRFAX NZ
Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King

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Suqain may be thousands of kilometres away but it faces the same issues as Southland when it comes to dairying.

The city's leaders are back from their jaunt to China and after a week of touring around have found that farmers in the Asian country face the same issues as Southland.

Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King said the Chinese city was considering sending agricultural experts to Southland to find out how they dealt with effluent and to look at the dairy practices here.

It was one of the many suggestions floated during the ratepayer funded adventure.

Suqain was struggling with how to manage effluent waste on farms and looked to New Zealand for ideas, he said.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said agricultural exchanges was one of the many exchanges the Chinese council was considering as New Zealand had better technology and innovation to deal with those issues.

But Southland Federated Farmers acting president Allan Baird said farming practices were so different between the two countries it might be hard for farmers to give advice.

"I guess the first thing would be to understand whether our farming systems are compatible," Baird said.

Farmers in Southland always welcomed international groups and some Southland farmers may be interested in seeing the Chinese market, he said.

Shadbolt said the Chinese city was trying to improve its sustainability and the environment and it was a topic of discussion with the area's leaders.

"They are trying to position themselves within the Chinese context of being an eco-city."

Agriculture was not the only thing the two cities had in common, a love of beer was also shared.

Councillors visited two breweries during the trip, one was the largest in the world, King said.

The city was huge and offered massive opportunities for Invercargill and Southland, he said.

"They are virtually unlimited."

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