Irrigation fund hands out its first million

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has become the first successful applicant to receive funding from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund.

The fund provides $35 million, over five years, with the aim of increasing the number of sustainable and water-efficient facilities in New Zealand.

It supports the development of proposals to the investment-ready prospectus stage.

All projects must demonstrate good industry practice, strong commercial disciplines and be beneficial to the community.

The HRBC will use the $1.67 million received from the IAF fund to commission a feasibility study for building a storage dam on the Makaroro River that would provide for up to 22,000 hectares of irrigation while improving water quality and summer flows in the Tukituki River and others.

The HRBC will match the MAF contribution to the project. This, combined with investment in the pre-feasibility stages already completed, makes for a total investment of $4.8 million.

Primary industries minister David Carter said the project could potentially provide security of supply for Hawke’s Bay farmers, enhance the region’s recreational opportunities and improve river flows in summer.

“Smart irrigation infrastructure development is key to building an innovative, competitive and sustainable rural sector,” Carter said.