Agriculture is already the biggest driver of the Canterbury economy with the rural sector accounting for up to 70% of Christchurch’s economic activity. In addition, Canterbury farmers spend around $750 million every year on goods and services provided by Christchurch businesses.

Irrigated farmland, on average, generates three times the production of an equivalent area farmed under dry land systems. Studies on the economic effect of irrigated agriculture show that one third of the wealth and employment created from irrigation occurs on farm, with the other two thirds spread through the rural and city communities.

Once the Central Plains Water Limited scheme (60,000Ha) is fully operational, annual direct and indirect regional agricultural output is expected to increase by $264m per annum. A proportion of this agricultural output will be processed, generating an additional $328m per annum, a combined increase of $592m per annum. The impact on the wider economic activity is assessed at approximately $1b to $1.4b per annum.

Direct plus indirect employment from the scheme is estimated to increase by about 1130 jobs, 416 of them from the expansion in farm output. A further 714 jobs will come from processing, transport and related off-farm activity.

The construction phase alone is expected to generate 700 jobs and 1777 indirect jobs and generate $325m in direct benefits and $368m in indirect benefits.

Updated 5th November 2013.