Landmark report reveals value of crop protection products to NZ

A landmark report reveals that without crop protection products, New Zealand’s economy would lose between $7.5 to $11.4 billion.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Development recently released the report, ‘The Importance of Crop Protection Products for The New Zealand Economy’, showing that crops would lose 30 percent of their value without these products.

Crop protection products have a far-reaching impact on our land-based sectors.  This includes horticulture, vegetables, forestry, pasture and field crops. Without the products, horticulture would lose 75 percent of the value of its crops – that would result in close to a $4 billion loss to the industry and the economy.

The crop protection industry is small, in fact, its contribution to the GDP is less than one percent, but it has far-reaching effects. In many cases, it would not be possible to grow commercial quantities of crops without these products. In other cases, yields would be much lower and the economic impact of this would be substantial.

Even a small increase in horticultural productivity has a ripple effect in boosting the economy. Productivity from innovation can have a sizeable effect. A small increase in the sector can be worth between $10-$100 million.

Not only does the crop protection industry have an important part to play in supporting the economy, it is also vital for producing safe food and protecting crops from damaging pests and disease. It develops tools to manage biosecurity incursions which damage our native species and crops.

A severely reduced kiwifruit production would have resulted from the 2010 PSA outbreak. The use of these products was a vital part of managing the deadly bacteria, which could kill a kiwifruit vine if left unmanaged.

The industry ensures that there continues to be a variety of new products to offer pest control solutions for growers and farmers. Agrichemicals that are more environmentally-friendly, more effective and more targeted allow farmers to better control target pests, while protecting human health and allowing beneficial flora and fauna to prosper. This is reflected in the importance of our regulatory regime which approves these products for use.

The report highlights that delays in this process mean that newer, softer, and more environmentally-friendly chemistries take longer to get to market. It says that a one year delay means a loss of between $7-70 million to the GDP, over 10 years.

From managing damaging pests and diseases, through to research and disposal, the industry is committed to the responsible use of crop protection products right throughout the product life-cycle.

This stewardship begins at the research and development phase of a product, going on to distribution and use, through to the eventual phase out and disposal of waste.

We are one of the founders, and a trustee, of the Agrecovery programme which recycles plastic containers and collects surplus agrichemicals. Our members fund the programme by paying a levy on the sale of products.

As this report touches on, it is a combination of innovation, good plant health and stewardship that will boost efficiency in farming practices and allow increasingly sustainable food production.