A South Waikato ginseng producer is ready to approach potential investors to increase its production and exports with the help of funding of up to $40,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Maraeroa has 20 hectares of high-value, wild-simulated Asian panax ginseng growing on the forest floor of its 5,550 hectare pine plantation. The group is looking to double the size of its ginseng plantation by raising capital and having a purpose designed processing factory built at Pureora.
Maraeroa C Incorporation is using its MPI funding to compete an investment information memorandum and business plan for potential investors.
"The economic return from ginseng will contribute to Waikato's economic, social and cultural growth. Growing ginseng under their existing pine tree canopy has the potential to optimise Maraeroa's return from the land for its 1,200 shareholders," says Ben Dalton, Deputy Director General, Sector Partnerships and Programmes at MPI.
"This has been a long-term investment for Maraeroa. Growing Ginseng started out as a trial for them in 2006 and they had their first commercial harvest in 2016. The growing conditions turned out to be right for them which is exciting as Ginseng is valued at more than $400,000 per hectare," he said. Maraeroa's funding comes from MPI's Māori Agribusiness fund and contributes to regional economic growth.
The Incorporation has started looking for potential investors with existing distribution channels to China. The company currently works with a small number of Chinese distributors and retailers who sell their products around New Zealand and in Hong Kong.
Maraeroa's Chief Executive Glen Katu said increased exporting would require additional local staff to be hired for ginseng production, processing and distribution.
"We'll need to hire more qualified and skilled local staff to handle larger product volumes and manage exports and distribution. There's also an opportunity for further investment in research and development to expand into new ginseng product lines and build greater awareness in China about the quality of New Zealand ginseng products.
"There could be some huge long-term benefits for other forestry operators by growing ginseng. Recent studies have shown that the Central North Island forests are an ideal place to grow good quality ginseng and there is demand for wild simulated ginseng in China. We want to provide sustainable revenue for our shareholders and their families while ensuring the land is handed onto the next generation in as good, or better condition than it was received," says Mr Katu.
MPI's Māori Agribusiness team helps Māori make the most of their primary sector assets from production and processing, through to exporting via tailored support.