Irrigation Funding a Boost for South Canterbury Economy

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An irrigation scheme aiming to see an increase in on-farm jobs and wealth across the South Canterbury region has been awarded $640,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), as part of its Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

The IAF funding has gone to Hunter Downs Development Company Limited to contribute towards its Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme (HDI Scheme). The project, which is co-funded by Meridian Energy Limited, will establish a design team to undertake the project’s engineering design, investigate farmer demand for the scheme and raise funds for the scheme’s further stages.

“Once the feasibility of the project is determined, the HDI Scheme intends to use Waitaki water to irrigate up to 40,000 hectares north to Otipua. This will service between 200 and 300 land owners within a total command area of 60,000 hectares,” says Hunter Downs Irrigation Limited Chair Andrew Fraser.

“The HDI Scheme will provide opportunities for land use diversification including horticulture, sheep, beef and dairy farming.

“The programme of work will also allow farmers to make informed decisions on the construction of the irrigation scheme, which is expected to commence in early 2016,” says Mr Fraser.

“This part of South Canterbury has regular droughts. The HDI Scheme is a large scale infrastructure initiative that hopes to significantly address this problem,” says Kevin Steel, MPI Irrigation Acceleration Fund Manager.

“Where agriculture is New Zealand’s largest export earner, irrigation infrastructure contributes significantly to supporting the country’s ongoing economic growth,” says Mr Steel.

The HDI Scheme is the outcome of seven years of collaborative work between Meridian Energy Ltd and the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme Trust (formerly the South Canterbury Irrigation Trust). 

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