Impacts of climate change on New Zealand horticulture and the effectiveness of government policy at production level : a case study : a thesis prepared in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of AgriScience in Horticulture at Massey University, New Zealand
Climate change has a significant influence on New Zealand horticultural production and therefore, relevant adaptation responses should be taken to cope with the impacts of climate change. The New Zealand government has introduced several policies on climate change for the agricultural industry, such as the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), Fund and technology development and transfer in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and facilitate farmers’ adaptation responses. However, many of these policies are related to dairy rather than horticultural production. Therefore, it is not certain whether these policies are being implemented effectively at horticultural production level or not.
The purpose of this research is to identify the impacts of climate change on horticultural crop production and how government policies on climate change have been implemented at horticultural production level.
The study used qualitative research methods and a case study approach to collect and analyse data. The case study was implemented at seven farms: a citrus orchard in Gisborne, a vineyard in Nelson, four vegetable farms in Manawatu, and an apple orchard in Hawke’s Bay. Primary data were mainly obtained from semi-directive interviews with farmers and government officers and field observations. Secondary data were collected through literature reviews.
The literature reviewed showed that climate change is occurring in New Zealand. Annual average temperatures have increased by 0.9°C over the last 100 years and annual rainfall has been changing with an increase in the west. However, field interviews revealed that most farmers felt that climate was not changing and didn’t change their farming activities. Also, there was no significant impact of climate change on horticultural crops, including citrus, wine grapes, apples, and vegetables. As a result, most farmers interviewed had little concern about climate change and were not doing any particular adaptation responses for climate change.
In addition, from field interviews, government policies and activities seemed to be less effective at horticultural production levels. Many farmers interviewed had little knowledge on government policies on climate change and were not involved in those
government policies and activities. This is because the farmers tend not to pay strong attention to long-term issues or threats, such as climate change. And, many New Zealand government policies on climate change are focusing on mitigation of GHG emissions from livestock and pasture. Also, local councils’ resources and finance are generally insufficient to meet the full demands around the issue. In addition, New Zealand policies on climate change have a limited comprehensive approach.
Thus, it is recommended that the Government needs to develop broader policies for enhancing horticultural industries’ adaptability and resilience to climate change. Also, the Government needs to develop comprehensive and long-term strategies including considering relocation of production to new regions. In addition, the central government needs to provide more financial support to local government in order to improve their capability of undertaking adaptation activities to climate change.