Add water, get extra $200m

Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013
irrigation
LIQUID GOLD: Irrigation of more farmland could lead to another $200 million in revenue for South Canterbury.

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South Canterbury could earn an additional $200 million in revenue and create 800 more jobs if more farmland was irrigated, modelling in a new report on the economic value of New Zealand's irrigation shows.

Commissioned by the Canterbury Development Corporation, the report created scenarios based on what percentage of irrigable land was irrigated.

The additional estimate of the new revenue and jobs would be created in South Canterbury was based on the most conservative of the scenarios. The figures were determined after being translated to one of South Canterbury's irrigation schemes and a sample land area of 25,000 hectares.

Aoraki Development Business & Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith said the report was hugely significant for South Canterbury as it continued to develop an understanding of the economic value of irrigating land and the benefits it could bring to the community.

"This report is well worth reading to begin to understand the importance of irrigation to our community and to New Zealand as a nation and the transformation that could be achieved for our economy."

The three scenarios the report used were based on how much potential irrigable land was irrigated. The first of these, where 607,773 ha, or 100 per cent of Canterbury's irrigable land was irrigated, would provide an economic benefit of $5.07 billion region-wide.

At a national level that figure rose to $7.3b and the creation of more than 20,000 additional jobs.

The second scenario, where 364,664ha or 60 per cent of potential irrigable land was irrigated, netted $4.4 b in revenue and 12,000 additional jobs.

The third scenario was based on the potential demand for irrigation under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, under which 250,000ha of land would be irrigated, giving an extra $3 b in revenue and 8000 jobs.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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