A new report says over the next 11 years, jobs in the primary industries sector will grow by about 15 percent to 400,000.
The report, People Power, was launched Friday morning by Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.
It suggests that increasingly, people working in the sector will need a tertiary qualification.
Naomi Parker, the ministry's manager of science and skills policy, said it's the first really comprehensive look at who and how many will be needed to maintain momentum throughout the whole sector.
"We're looking at an increase in jobs of around 50,000 people. That growth is going to be much more significant in processing and support services.
"Some really interesting figures are that in 2002, about 36 percent of primary industries employees had a post secondary school qualification. By 2012 that was 44 percent and this forecast predicts that by 2025 it needs to be more like 62 percent of the workforce."
Ms Parker says the report shows about one in five New Zealanders works in the sector, but in some regions, like Gisborne, it's about one in three, which reflects the importance of maintaining, even accelerating, the impetus driving the primary industries sector.
MPI to fund irrigation feasibility
Meanwhile, the government is to spend $7 million investigating the feasibility of irrigating tens of thousands of hectares of farmland in South Canterbury and which it estimates could create almost 2000 jobs.
Nathan Guy says the money will be spent looking at the viability of the Hunter Downs scheme which would irrigate 40,000 hectares.
Mr Guy says the irrigation scheme, which would take water from the Waitaki River, could create 1800 jobs and boost the local economy by more $800 million a year.