3 Sep 2014

Manuka plantations springing up

7:42 am on 3 September 2014

Establishing high yielding plantations of manuka around the country are at the root of a plan to turn the manuka honey industry into a $1 billion a year earner.

The Primary Growth Partnership programme funded by the government and industry partners is aimed at increasing production of high value, medical grade manuka honey used in treating wound infections.

In the latest development, the state owned farming enterprise, Landcorp will be planting out more than 90 hectares of manuka on its farms in Wairarapa, the Te Anau area and Canterbury.

The research partnership's managing director, Neil Walker, said there were 18 trial plots of specially selected manuka in different parts of the country.

"We're the first people to have suggested that manuka could be a plantation crop, the idea that instead of just being say, a wild scrub plant growing somewhere, you actually look to systematically plant high active manuka cultivers.

"And we're looking to double the activity, be able to double the amount of honey collected per hive, double the number of hives on an area and double the area, taking the manuka industry from $85 million to $1.1 billion a year," he said.