Landowners in New Zealand are getting the chance to become a part of the successful Manuka honey industry, with the offer of Manuka seedlings by the millions. Greg Palmer and Mark Struthers, manager and owner of Nga Rakau Nurseries respectively, are offering high performance seedlings to landowners who are interested in investing, which can help bring in $4300 per year for them.
With time, some believe this can become a billion-dollar industry. Commercial manager Stephen Lee says that the 4k estimate is very probable. The plants from the seedlings should have a high unique Manuka factor (UMF), with the returns being for landowners only.
Of course, farming the seedlings is not a short-term investment since returns may not show up for ten years at least after the initial planting. Manuka starts to blossom around the fourth or fifth year, but it’s around year six before the Manuka plants reach full growth. Manuka Farming NZ plans to release two million seedlings for 2018.
According to Lee, there are four varieties of seedlings they plan to release: one from Northland, two from Waikato, and the last from Wairarapa, though investors are being warned to be careful regarding where they plant the seed varieties. “The Northland variety is early flowering and suits warm sheltered sites, so it might not work in places where it is too cold in October for bees,” Lee explained. Manuka plants grow best on hills and help fight off erosion while producing the crop.
Benefits of Planting
Along with financial gain, there will be other benefits for those planting Manuka seedlings. The process can improve a farm environment and add value to the land. Adding plant variety helps fight erosion, add aesthetics, and protects the farmland’s soil. The Waikato variety is specifically known for being great for the environment.
It will be essential for NZ landowners to go under site preparation before planting, which helps to avoid costly mistakes in the end for farmers. The Ministry of Primary Industries has an available Afforestation Grant Scheme that can provide $1300 in funds to plant small to medium-sized forests.
Medical Grade Manuka
The Manuka honey industry demands property owners who have vast lands and hills. Lee explained that the program aims to venture from the wild harvest to a more science based farming. Manuka Honey NZ’s goal is also to increase production of medical grade Manuka honey, which many healthcare professionals have considered as an additional treatment.
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