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29 October 2003
Controlling strawberry fruit rot, best practise vineyards and riparian restoration are some of the projects given the go-ahead in the latest round of grants from the MAF Sustainable Farming Fund.
Around 80 new projects are expected to go ahead, with SFF contributions ranging between $4,400 to $600,000. In total, the fund is allocating 9.5 million dollars this round across these projects.
The fund, now in its fourth year, provides help to community oriented groups to undertake projects of environmental or economic benefit to the rural sector and its communities.
So far 180 projects have been allocated grant funding totalling $23.97 million throughout the country.
Sustainable Farming Fund Manager, Kevin Steel says that over the life of the Fund there has been a steady increase in the calibre of applications received - this has made narrowing down the 267 proposals from this latest round a challenging exercise.
"This large number of project proposals is an indication of the rural community's ability to work together on problems and opportunities that are directly affecting farmers and growers," he says.
Mr Steel has also noticed a growing trend towards more cross sector approaches of industry groups working together to solve common problems.
Each application is assessed by an independent panel made up from a cross section from the rural community. The successful ones are then passed on to the SFF team to negotiate final contracts.
"The system is very robust and this is shown by the fact that there have been very few failures amongst the projects funded," Mr Steel says.
The SFF team, which until now has consisted of a manager and administrator, has recently employed four new Project Advisers. These Project Advisers will be based in Christchurch, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.
Mr Steel says this bigger team will allow more effective liaison and communication with project teams to ensure that project results get to the wider community.
"The extra staff will also mean monitoring and accountability procedures will be able to keep pace with the growth in activity," he says.
For more information contact
MAF Sustainable Farming Fund Manager, Kevin Steel, Tel. 04-474-4293.