Helping The Primary Sector Help New Zealand

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is the lead government agency for the food and primary industries in Aotearoa New Zealand. These industries underpin the daily lives of many New Zealanders and make a significant contribution to our country’s prosperity.

MPI’s work spans the food and primary industries to support businesses, farmers, fishers, foresters, growers, manufacturers and processors to ensure prosperity and wellbeing for New Zealanders.

MPI’s vision is that NZ will be the world’s most sustainable provider of high-value food and primary products.  Stakeholders include bodies representing the interests of specific food and primary industries, members of the public, Crown research institutes, other government agencies and our trading partners.

The success of the primary sector relies on NZ’s international reputation for robust regulatory systems. It is maintained through strong relationships with our trading partners as we work to expand NZ’s exports of food and primary industry products.

MPI provides its core services to New Zealand through five business units: New Zealand Food Safety, Biosecurity New Zealand, Agriculture and Investment Services, Fisheries New Zealand and              Te Uru Rākau – NZ Forest Service. These front-line business units are supported by groups, including Compliance and Governance, Corporate Services, Policy and Trade and Public Affairs.

The ministry is based at more than 50 sites across more than 25 towns and cities in New Zealand, and at 12 sites overseas, supporting all of the areas that touch the food and fibre sector. It operates in a variety of environments, from offices to international airports and ports, to fishing vessels out at sea, in transitional storage facilities, in processing plants and on farms.

The ministry helps people to understand how to carry out their activities – whether customary, business or recreational – within the legal requirements. This ranges from recreational fishers who need to know fishing limits, to international travellers who need to know what items can be brought into the country.  MPI also supports businesses – small and large – to follow New Zealand’s regulations when growing and exporting food and primary industry products to markets in more than 150 countries around the world

MPI uses its networks and international market presence to expand New Zealand’s export of food and primary industry products.


MPI’s most recent Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) shows export revenue for our food and fibre exports is forecast to hit a record high of $49.1 billion in the year to June 22 – driven by strong demand for our dairy, forestry and horticulture growth.

Over the past 18 months the resilience of primary industries and the value they provide our country and economy has been demonstrated as the sector continues to lead New Zealand’s recovery from one of the most significant global pandemic since 1918.

The sector also has an important role to play in making our economy more sustainable.

In July 2020 the Government announced its Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential roadmap. It’s a plan in response to the effects of COVID-19, aimed at boosting food and fibres sector export earnings by $44 billion spread over the next decade while protecting the environment and growing jobs. The roadmap was developed in consultation with industry and launched by the Prime Minister in July 2020.

The roadmap provides extra investment by upscaling the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund, to further boost innovation efforts.

MPI is also committed to helping the sector navigate the challenges faced by the sector post Covid-19 with initiatives such as the Opportunity Grows Here campaign, which encourages Kiwis into training, jobs and careers in the food and fibre sector.

MPI, along with the food and primary industries, the Government and Māori are working together to develop He Waka Eke Noa – a framework that will equip farmers and growers to reduce on-farm agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. This will help enable sustainable food and fibre production for future generations.

He Waka Eke Noa aims to see all farmers and growers factoring climate change into their farm business and environment plans by 2025.


New Zealand innovations such as the electric fence, the milk meter, improved grass cultivars, selective breeding techniques and understanding of genetics have been important to increasing productivity and have enabled the food and fibre sector to be a major part of New Zealand’s economy.

Future growth will depend on innovation more than ever before. Further innovations can increase productivity gains to maximise profitability, competitiveness, and sustainability for the food and fibre sector, and generate benefits for all New Zealanders

The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFFF) fund was set up in October 2018 to support the food and fibre sector to boost innovation and problem-solving, best practice, and deliver sustainable economic growth. The fund works as a co-investment with industry, from small grassroots community projects to large-scale industry development.

About $40 million is available each year. An additional $84 million was brought forward through the Fit for a Better World roadmap to fast track efforts and fund more projects. This includes a new process to increase the representation of Māori agribusinesses – and enable them to work closely with MPI’s Māori Agribusiness directorate to identify opportunities and assist Māori to realise the economic potential of their primary assets.

As at 31 May 2021, MPI had approved 138 projects with a total MPI investment of $111 million, and a further $138 million investment from industry and community groups. 


Leaf Protein Research and Development Programme

This is a $20 million, five-year programme (MPI $8m and industry $12m) that aims to launch a new leaf protein concentrate industry in New Zealand. The project is with Leaft Foods Ltd, based in Canterbury.  It expands on early trials to extract edible protein ingredients from green leafy crops, for use in a range of food products. As a co-product, it will make a high-quality silage feed for farming operations with the remaining plant matter to lower nitrogen losses and emissions on farm.

Māui drone project

This project is developing a cutting-edge system using a drone equipped with artificial intelligence to survey coastal habitats, and find and track Māui dolphins. The $1.2 million project (MPI $529,000 and industry $695,000) is a collaboration between MPI, the fishing industry and the not-for-profit sector. Data gathered over the 15-month project will improve our understanding and protection of this critically endangered species, and will be used to find ways to best protect them.

Locomotion monitoring using computer vision and machine learning

Lameness is one of the most important animal welfare issues affecting New Zealand dairy farms. This $100,000 project with Iris Data Science (MPI $40,000, industry $60,000) aims to address the problem of lameness in dairy cattle by developing a locomotion scoring system that will continuously monitor animals throughout their life on a farm. This system will allow early detection and drafting of animals and will result in a reduction of the prevalence of lameness, less suffering, less cost and less culling. The project is running nationwide for nine months.