A new collaboration to boost Taranaki’s food and fibre enterprises has been launched by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The two-year, $914,000 project dubbed ‘Branching Out’, will investigate, explore, package, and potentially pilot new commercial opportunities.
 
The goal is to identify up to a dozen food and fibre ventures that have the potential to boost Taranaki’s economy, O’Connor said.
 
“Taranaki needs investment and support to get promising new ventures off the ground. It’s packed with prime food producing areas, and is a hub of innovative and creative businesses.
 
"While Taranaki has a strong rural economy, it is facing challenges where consumer demand and climatic conditions are impacting the food and farming sectors. ‘Branching Out’ provides the opportunity to help Taranaki grow new value-add industries, to diversify the local economy and set it up for the future.”
 
O’Connor said a key part of this new project is also looking at ways to diversify and complement existing land-use and value chains, to better support biodiversity and environmental outcomes.
 
Venture Taranaki – Taranaki’s regional development agency – is leading the project, in collaboration with the Ministry for Primary Industries through its Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund.
 
Justine Gilliland, chief executive officer of Venture Taranaki, said through ‘Branching Out’, “we want to identify and kick-start new, complementary enterprises, create exciting new job opportunities, support local businesses, and foster expertise that could help provide greater resilience in our region.
 
“By linking up resources we can scale-up the project and get things moving much faster than we’d otherwise have been able to. The support and interest the project has gained from a number of organisations has been pivotal in getting it off the ground.”
 
O’Connor said this concerted effort of finding complementary regional business opportunities may prove to be a formula that works for other regions too.
 
“We hope this programme will be a model and inspiration to other regions throughout the country to grow their local economies and boost sustainability.”