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Communications Minister Simon Bridges and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced $1.6 million funding for two workstreams to promote the uptake of digital technology across Canterbury and to take advantage of new value-add market opportunities.

The Ministers are in Canterbury today to co-launch the refresh of the Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy. 

The digital connectivity workstream will partner with government to focus on gathering region-specific information on any gaps in coverage to see where efforts can be better focused and on promoting the uptake and use of digital technology across the region.

“Canterbury has identified connectivity as vital to economic growth and the digital connectivity workstream will actively complement the Government’s existing national broadband programmes and our Building a Digital Nation action plan,” Mr Bridges says.

“A key focus is around reducing the digital divide between town and country, particularly given rural Canterbury generates much of the prosperity of the region.

“We want to encourage businesses, particularly those in rural areas to get on board with faster broadband by sharing success stories of how it’s making a difference. For example, for farmers, improved connectivity helps them gather data to farm smarter – using technology for environmental monitoring, such as effluent and water control, and for online shopping.

“This workstream aims to have 95 per cent of farms accessing broadband by June 2019. We want a fully connected Canterbury where the whole region can thrive,” Mr Bridges says.

The government funding for this value-added production workstream will focus on:

Working with central government to identify value-add opportunities, particularly in China and South-East Asia; Consulting and engaging with South Island economic development agencies on establishing an economic virtual policy unit; Connecting industry needs to research; and Accelerated knowledge transition to high-value production and manufacturing for export.

“Canterbury is one of the world’s great food baskets with a highly productive agriculture sector, and the refreshed Strategy highlights the importance of increasing the value of what we produce,” Mr Guy says.

“This new support will help us towards the Government’s goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025, along with our support for research and development, irrigation and water storage, skills and trade access.

“The Strategy also supports the uptake of digital technologies and smart use of irrigation and freshwater management. Irrigation has already helped increase land productivity, as well as providing opportunities for diversification into higher value production and processing,” Mr Guy says.

The Strategy also includes a programme to ensure local government manages planning and consenting processes, as well as infrastructure. 

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