[8 March/ Stuff]

Landowners are being offered high performance Manuka seedlings that could earn up to $4300 per hectare annually. Some predict the honey sector could become a $1.2 billion a year industry by 2028 with the help of wholesale plantings. However, Commercial Manager for Manuka Farming New Zealand, Stephen Lee, said the $4300 figure has been calculated assuming a high number of hives on a property, the plants having a high unique Manuka factor and the returns going to the landowner only. Mr Lee also noted the returns to the landowner will not be seen until 10 years after planting as Manuka seeds take 6 years to reach full production. Manuka Farming is releasing two million seedlings for planting in 2018, with a minimum order of 5000 and each seedling costing 75c. Last year, Manuka Farming sold one million seedlings. Manuka Farming is looking for property owners with more than 2 hectares of land as well as hill country landowners, who could use Manuka to protect erosion-prone land.