With another dry season looming, and parts of the country still suffering badly from last season, it is very satisfying for many farmers that the subject of irrigation came up in Parliament last night [26th May].
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced that irrigation projects will receive a kick-start of $25 million in operating funding for five years from 2016/17 through the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF),
Even though new rules set by E-Can will reduce further expansion in some areas, the outlook does look positive.
“This funding will help to complete the investigation and development of new regional scale irrigation proposals,” says Mr Guy.
“The need for more water storage projects is obvious given that nearly every part of the country has suffered through drought at some stage over the past three years.
“Providing a reliable water supply for farmers and growers has massive potential to boost growth, creating jobs and exports in provincial regions.”
Around 100,000 hectares of new irrigated areas are expected from IAF-funded projects to date, with around 36,000 hectares of that commissioned or currently being constructed.
The IAF helps support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the stage where they are investment ready, which means they must be commercially robust and demonstrate a high level of community support.
The Government also supports these projects through the Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CIIL), which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development. $120 million has been allocated to CIIL over the last two years with the potential to provide a further 125,000 hectares of new irrigation.
Tony Atwool from RX Plastics says "We believe this to be a very positive initiative, coming at a very opportune time to boost confidence in the future of rural NZ. It is great to see that the Government recognises that there is no shortage of water in NZ, just a timing issue that means we need storage. The process of identifying and scoping opportunities is very expensive and difficult to fund in the early stages so these funds will be put to very good use and result in REAL pay-back to the NZ tax payers. It will provide long term stability to large farming areas, provide employment and increase export returns. A great outcome for all New Zealanders."
More information on the IAF is available here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes/farming/irrigation-acceleration-fund/