Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ), the trade body representing the organic sector, will receive NZ$1.5m (US$930,630) in government funding over the next three years, Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard announced Monday (20 March).

"Organics is a small but important sector. It is important for New Zealand to be able to supply organic product as part of our portfolio of food exports, with demand continuing to grow rapidly in United States and European markets," Mallard said.

"New Zealand needs to position itself to take a slice of this growth. This funding will help the newly established umbrella body Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) create a more strategic and coordinated focus for the sector over the next three years.

"The sector is a diverse one, with a history of limited coordination. But stakeholders have worked hard in recent years to find common direction, culminating in the launch of OANZ in November last year to provide a single voice for the sector. This government support will help cement these efforts to coordinate what is potentially a very valuable sector."

The funding, provided by the Sector Initiatives Fund, will bridge a funding gap until OANZ become self-funding. OANZ has that it will have a strategy for becoming self-funding in place by September 2006.

The Sector Initiatives Fund is a grant scheme designed to support industry initiatives that are consistent with the New Zealand Government's economic, social and environmental objectives.