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BOP manuka industry gaining golden ground

The Bay of Plenty’s manuka honey industry has made significant progress this year, with the establishment of an advocacy group tasked with leading future growth. The Bay of Plenty is one of the first regions in the country to start implementing a manuka strategy.

The Bay of Plenty Manuka Action Group (MAG) was established as part of the region’s Agribusiness Action Plan. It forms one of the nine action areas of the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Programme.

The group’s objective is to expand the Bay of Plenty’s manuka estate, diversify alternative land use in the region, support industry to collectively resolve industry-wide issues, encourage innovation and development, and provide an advocacy role for manuka-based agribusiness within the wider Bay of Plenty and Taupo.

MAG chairman Warwick Murray says the willingness of industry within the region to work together means real gains can be made.

“The development of MAG has been a huge achievement, with representation from five of the major processing and export organisations in the Bay of Plenty sitting around the table, along with significant Maori landowners, Department of Conservation and Crown Research Institutes.

“As a group, we have clearly established our objective of working together and coordinating our efforts to address challenges facing the industry, such as boundary riding and the definitions of export standards. We’re here for action, not just talk.”

Mr Murray says the Bay of Plenty is one of the first regions in New Zealand to have made progress in developing a Manuka strategy.

“Manuka honey has huge potential for growth, but there are still many obstacles the industry is facing in terms of realising that growth. We are one of the early movers to start developing a strategy and many will be looking to us to help guide the way.

“It also gives us the opportunity to have a voice in the national conversation, with central government already showing a keenness for MAG to be involved.”

The group’s current priorities for the region include informing landowners about technical aspects to the industry and providing advice on their land’s suitability for manuka; establishing baseline data through sector assessment and mapping; identifying educational training opportunities that align with industry needs, and; advocating on a national forum on issues such as export standards, biosecurity, boundary riding etc.

Next steps include developing a work programme identifying the actions that need to be taken to deliver on priorities.

“Manuka is an area where we can make real gains for the region.”

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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