In 2002-03, based on 425,000 ha of irrigation nationally, irrigation contributed $0.9 billion or 11% of farm gate GDP. In 2011/12, the study was repeated for the then 720,000 ha and estimated to contribute $2.2 billion. In 2015-16 it was estimated this figure had grown to $2.4 billion based on 800,000 ha irrigated. These figures are at farm gate and do not take account of the considerable flow-on benefits (processing and related service industries).
Looking at the future potential, the NZIER report of 2010, states increasing irrigable area by 350,000 ha increases national GDP by 0.8 %. A 2012 report by AERU, based on 500,000 ha of existing irrigation in Canterbury with a further 250,000 ha of new irrigation, reinforces this. It demonstrates the Canterbury economy receives an additional $2 billion in revenue, and just under 8,000 FTE’s, from the increased irrigation. For New Zealand wide impacts these numbers rise to $3 billion in revenue and just under 8,400 FTE’s.
There are considerable flow-on economic benefits to the community from irrigation. The Opuha Dam and the North Otago Irrigation Company ex-post studies show that farm expenditure, gross farm revenue and farm employment opportunities typically increase threefold when converting from dryland to irrigated agriculture. There are also large social benefits, including a higher household and personal incomes and a higher proportion of the population in full-time employment.
National and regional socio-economic studies of Irrigation:
- The Contribution of the Agricultural Sector in Selwyn and Waimakariri districts to the economy of Christchurch 2015
- Value of Irrigation in NZ 2014
- Economic Value of Increased Irrigation in Canterbury 2012
- Economic Impact of Increased Irrigation to NZ 2010
- Economic Value of Irrigation in NZ 2004
Irrigation scheme socio-economic studies:
- Kerikeri Irrigation Company 2016
- North Otago Irrigation Company 2014
- Lower Waitaki 2013
- North Otago Irrigation Company 2010
- Waimakariri Irrigation 2008
- Opuha Dam 2006
- Fast Facts