NZ minister announces Saudi livestock imports and agribusiness hub

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

NZ minister announces Saudi livestock imports and agribusiness hub

Related tags: New zealand, Saudi arabia

Saudi Arabia and New Zealand have signed a protocol to allow livestock imports from New Zealand for breeding, with imports to start by the end of the year, a government minister has revealed.

In addition, the New Zealand government will spend US$6m to create an agribusiness service hub and a demonstration farm in Saudi Arabia.

Nathan Guy, New Zealand's minister for primary industries, made the announcements during a speech to the Saudi ministry of agriculture in Riyadh during a visit to the Middle East this month.

Sheep by December

Speaking about the livestock protocol, Guy said: “The protocol will regulate the export of live sheep, goats and cattle from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia for breeding purposes. It covers animal welfare requirements relating to either sea or air freight, and contains a guarantee that the animals will be allowed to disembark upon reaching their destination​.

Following this signing, it is expected that the first research breeding flock of sheep from New Zealand will be air freighted before Christmas in order to commence the new Saudi hub operation. The protocol signed today is a key part of ensuring the success of the agribusiness hub in Dammam, and cementing in our future relationship with Saudi Arabia​,” he added.

The hub and farm will be based in Dammam, home to Saudi New Zealand Milk Products (SNZMP), owned by New Zealand dairy firm Fonterra.

Creating opportunities

The scale of this farm, and the potential for New Zealand, is significant. A broad range of New Zealand agribusiness companies are expected to be involved in the demonstration farm and it is hoped that the first services will be installed in Damman by mid-2014​,” said Guy in his speech.

In addition to being a substantial investment and project in its own right, it is also expected that this demonstration farm will create other opportunities for New Zealand in this market, fast track partnerships between New Zealand and GCC businesses, and quite possibly open up significant opportunities for New Zealand companies elsewhere in the Arab world. I envisage that this will also provide a much stronger market presence for the export of chilled lamb from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia​,” he added.

He said the farm would include 15 centre pivot irrigators, a feed mill, a sheep breeding operation, a lamb and cattle finishing feedlot, and a processing facility.

New Zealand's total trade with the GCC reached US$4.82bn in 2013, with Saudi Arabia as the largest trading partner in the block, according to Guy.

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