MPI supporting farmer-led pathway to sustainable rural communities

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investing $1.25 million over two years in the newly formalised Taranaki Catchment Communities (TCC).

The announcement was made at a launch event held at the Taumata Recreation Centre in Eltham on Friday.

TCC Chairperson, Donna Cram, said “we are extremely grateful for the support and backing we have received from MPI.”

The funding will enable TCC to implement the actions within local community workplans aimed at boosting environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

MPI Director Regional Economic Development, Stefan Corbett, said “it’s fantastic to see farmers working together to lead positive change in their communities. We’ve been impressed with the support this project has already received to deliver meaningful change for rural communities throughout Taranaki.”

TCC’s work began in early 2020 when a group of farmers and growers from around the region came together with Venture Taranaki to see what could be done to mobilise the Taranaki rural community, to respond to upcoming legislative change and changing customer demands. 

With the support of Venture Taranaki, Taranaki’s Regional Development Agency, and the assistance of an initial MPI grant, TCC engaged with local communities at the start of 2021 to establish 14 catchment groups around the region. Each of these groups identified their local priorities to feed into a region-wide workplan.

This workplan grouped together meaningful and practical actions such as, monitoring stream health, assessing agri-tech opportunities, managing invasive weeds and pests, improving financial literacy, developing specialist environmental knowledge, and delivering wellbeing courses.

“Farming and food production have been key pillars of the Taranaki economy for generations. We are pleased to be involved in work that supports and strengthens best practice and the communities that sustain this important sector,” says Justine Gilliland, Venture Taranaki Chief Executive.

Since the beginning of this project, a key focus has been to enable a farmer-led, farmer-driven approach.

“Supporting and empowering farmers to control their own destiny will result in long-term sustainability for them and their communities. Key industry bodies and community organisations have been quick to get on board and support this work too,” says Cram.

This approach has resulted in more than 300 farmers attending local community meetings and workshops, and there is now demand to form further catchment communities later this year.

While this funding will enable TCC to start implementing actions, Cram is aware there is plenty of hard work still to come.

“This is an important milestone and a chance to reflect on our journey so far. However, our vision of ‘flourishing rural communities’ will only be possible if we continue working to ensure positive enduring change.”

For further information or to contribute to the work of TCC, please contact Donna Cram at [email protected]