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New Zealand Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
New Zealand is a prominent agricultural country. The soil is fertile, the climate is favorable and the technology and farming methods are advanced. More than 40 percent of the land area is agricultural land and is mainly used for livestock breeding, which provides dairy products but also meat and wool. Exports of fruits, vegetables and wine have become increasingly important.
New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of dairy products and today it is the most important sector in agriculture. About 95 percent of production is exported.
Another important sector in agriculture is the raising of cattle and sheep - the country is a major exporter of beef. The abundantly growing tussock grass and humid climate provide grazing for the animals all year round. Cows are primarily raised on the North Island, but in recent years dairy production has also spread to the South Island, where it has placed a strain on water resources as it requires irrigation of pasture land. The southern highlands and eastern parts are better suited for sheep breeding as well as wheat and barley cultivation. In recent years breeding of deer and goats has increased in importance.
Wool used to be New Zealand's largest export product, but today lamb production has become more profitable. Some sheep breeding has also been outcompeted by the successful milk production. More than nine tenths of the lamb is exported and the country accounts for a significant part of world exports.
The cereals are produced for the domestic market.
New Zealand's different climatic conditions make it possible to grow a variety of fruits. Kiwi, apple and avocado are the most important and produce large export earnings. The country accounts for about a quarter of the world's production of kiwi fruit. Vegetable cultivation is significant, with onions, squash and bell peppers as important products.
Wine is grown from north to south under climatic conditions comparable to the area from Bordeaux in France to southern Spain. About two-thirds of wine production is exported, but New Zealand is not yet one of the largest wine producers in the world.
Agriculture received large government subsidies up to the 1980s, but in connection with extensive liberalization the support was abolished.
Forests used to cover two-thirds of the country, but most of the original forests were destroyed by European colonizers. Today, forests grow on just over one third of the area, since extensive planting has been done. What is left of the original forests is now protected by a ban on felling on non-private land. On the west coast of South Island, there has long been conflict between environmental groups who want to protect nature and the mining interests that break coal and gold.
Almost all timber is extracted from planted forest. The imported and fast-growing assembly figures dominate the forest industry, which provides an important contribution to the economy.
New Zealand has the world's fourth largest fishing waters, with an so-called exclusive economic zone covering 4 million square kilometers. A quota system sets limits on how much fish can be picked up. The catch consists mainly of octopus, hoki (a predator), mackerel and tuna. There are also restrictions on the amount of foreign investment allowed in the fishing industry.
The cultivation of green-lipped mussel, king salmon and Pacific ostrich has grown as the fishing quota has been limited. The fish farms today are seen as a future industry. About 90 percent of production is exported.
Fishing is particularly important for the Maoris and a 1992 settlement in the Waitangi tribunal gave them extensive rights. Maori interests now control some of the commercial fishing rights and they are guaranteed the right to fish for housing needs.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
6.6 percent (2016)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
40.5 percent (2016)