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Ardern was speaking after outlining a plan to lift primary sector earnings by $44 billion over the next 10 years by creating value and employing more people, while at the same time sticking to environmentally sustainability targets.
Ardern said the primary sector had already made significant strides to improve the sustainability of New Zealand's products and practices, but there was potential to go further.
New Zealand had invested in its farming sector to boost exports following the Covid-19 downturn, she said.
That included investments in marketing and helping the primary industries sector come up with innovative new products and practices.
Farming products produced according to sustainable practices can attract premium prices overseas, Ardern said.
She said that despite the Covid-19 global market's downturn, some New Zealand premium products were bringing in greater revenues due to increased demand for safer, higher quality foods from around the globe.
The plan to boost the sector centres on three themes:
- Productivity: adding an additional $44 billion in export earnings over the next decade through a focus on creating value.
- Sustainability: reducing our biogenic methane emissions to 24-47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050; and 10 per cent below by 2030. Plus restoring New Zealand’s freshwater environments to a healthy state within a generation.
- Inclusiveness: employing 10 per cent more New Zealanders from all walks of life in the food and fibre sector by 2030, and 10,000 more New Zealanders in the primary sector workforce over the next four years.
"We’re accelerating nearly $100 million via the flagship Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund and in forestry for innovative and creative projects," Ardern said.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the sector’s ability to record 4.5% growth to about $48 billion of exports in the past year despite Covid-19, highlighted demand for our top-quality products.
"“We need to create new billion-dollar, category-leading products services for consumers here and overseas, while respecting Te Taiao – the natural world," he said.