The Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector includes activities related to growing crops; raising livestock; growing and harvesting timber; and harvesting fish and other animals from farms or their natural habitats. It includes production and production support services. Production activities are classified as horticulture; livestock production and aquaculture; forestry and logging; fishing; hunting and trapping.

Christchurch is at the centre of Canterbury, a world-renowned food-growing region. The region produces, among other things, meat products, seafood, dairy products and wine for domestic consumption and export.

Canterbury is also a hub for agribusiness research and agritech innovations, undertaken by the private sector and by globally-recognised research institutes such as Lincoln University, Landcare Research, Plant and Food Research and AgResearch. These activities add value to this sector and are strong because of the strong role agricultural activities play in the region’s economy.

This sector has significant input into food and beverage manufacturing companies in Christchurch (see Manufacturing).

Christchurch Quick Facts

  • Contributes approximately $223 million to Christchurch GDP (Infometrics’ Estimate year ended June 2014, $2010)
  • Accounts for around one percent of GDP in Christchurch
  • Around 1,007 business units are based in Christchurch (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
  • Has around 1,643 employees (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Sector Employment Breakdown, 2014
Source: Statistics New Zealand
Sub-sectorEmployee Count% of total
Forestry and Logging402%
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping352%
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Support Services27016%

Sector Trends

Central Government Policy & Regulation

Central government policy and regulation plays a large role in shaping the Agriculture sector. The following areas of policy are being discussed and/or have been the subject of recent regulation:

  • Water management
  • Supporting R&D in the Agriculture sector and the uptake of technologies in primary land-based production systems
  • Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to increase market access
  • Ensuring robust biosecurity systems to protect New Zealand’s food exports, image and reputation
  • Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and its impact on farm practices, production costs and technologies

Changing Export Growth Markets

The target markets for primary products are changing. The focus is moving away from English-speaking nations (Australia, Europe and the United States) to emerging markets. The current growth markets for New Zealand primary products are in Asia, South America and Africa.

Workforce Attraction and Retention Becoming Harder

The Agriculture sector has recognised that there are increasing challenges in the attraction and retention of people to work in the sector. These challenges are across all levels, from farm staff and farm managers to the agricultural sciences and related disciplines. See the summary of the sector workforce plan for more information on our goals and activities to address this.

Technology Take-up Constraints

The level of on-farm technology deployment and management is a recognised productivity constraint and a barrier to the further adoption of new technologies.

Corporate Farming

There is a gradual shift away from the traditional family and generational business model to one of corporate farming and family equity models, where economies of scale are used to reduce marginal costs and improve efficiency and margins.

The Rise of Dairy Farming

There is an increase in land-use conversions from sheep, beef and grain farming to higher-value and process-driven dairy farming. This shift is seeing dairy farming development in areas that have not traditionally been farmed as dairy., This has resulted in sophisticated water and effluent management solutions being implemented to alleviate any environmental issues.

Sector Initiatives

Managing Canterbury’s Water

Water is a critical resource for Canterbury’s Agriculture sector. Canterbury has the largest area of irrigated land in New Zealand and there is the potential to expand this further. Environment Canterbury (ECan) is leading a collaborative programme to deliver the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, which includes putting in place appropriate regulations and projects to support increased production in parallel with the realisation of a range of other related community outcomes.

Developing a Knowledge Base on the Canterbury Rural Economy

CDC is developing a better understanding of the relationships between the activities in this sector and the economy of Christchurch. Economic modelling completed in 2012 indicates that there is
the potential for approximately $1.1 billion in extra value-added to be generated in the region if all irrigable land were to be included in irrigation scheme developments.

Precision Agriculture Association of NZ

Precision Agriculture is a farm management concept that involves studying and managing in-field variations within farms that can affect crop yield. It relies on new technologies like sensing
technology, satellite imagery, information technology, and geospatial tools such as GPS, which enable farmers to accurately manage soil or crop characteristics on their land.

CDC is one of the partners in the establishment of New Zealand’s first dedicated Precision Agriculture organisation, the Precision Agriculture Association of NZ Inc (PAANZ). Its primary
role is to enable land users to be more productive, efficient and sustainable, and therefore competitive, by providing a platform for information sharing, networking, investment and innovation in the development and implementation of relevant Precision Agriculture technologies and systems.

Templeton Agri-Innovation Park

The Templeton Agri-Innovation Park will house agriculture-focused, early-stage companies and SMEs. It will leverage off the research capabilities of Lincoln University and rural-focused research institutes, all of which are located in close proximity to the park. Its primary goal will be to facilitate and enable research and development, technology and knowledge transfer, commercialisation and training and people development across the sector.