There is increasing interest from overseas based investors wishing to purchase land in Northland for the farming of manuka honey.
New Zealand and parts of Australia are the only places where manuka grows naturally, and Northland’s temperate climate makes it an ideal location for the cultivation of honey bees.
Harcourts Rural and Lifestyle Manager Tom Rutherford says he is currently working with a number of investors, who see the financial and environmental benefits of manuka honey farming.
“Honey has been used for thousands of years as a sweetener, but also for medicinal purposes. Asian cultures in particular are wise to the many health benefits of manuka honey.”
Honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which is produced from an enzyme used by bees, and can help the healing process of wounds. Manuka honey is particularly special because of the presence of methylglyoxal (MG) as well as hydrogen peroxide. MG has powerful antibacterial properties and does not lose its potency over time.
This means manuka honey is particularly effective at treating minor wounds and burns. It is also marketed as being able to help in the treatment of high cholesterol, diabetes, eye, ear and sinus infections and gastrointestinal problems.
The potency of manuka honey is measured by its unique manuka factor (UMF). The UMF grading system appraises natural markers found in manuka honey, and assures purity and quality.
The UMF quality trademark ranges from 5 upwards:
- 0-4 Not detectable
- 5-9 Low levels
- 10-15 Useful levels
- 16+ Superior high grade levels
Northland is known to be an area which produces honey with a high UMF rating.
Mr Rutherford says manuka works best on marginal hill land, and has the benefit of acting as erosion control while producing a crop.
“It is worth considering whether your land might be suitable. Statistics New Zealand reports in the 12 months to November last year exports of honey rose by 45% to $281 million.
“It’s incredible that what was once seen as a scrub plant is now contributing to our economy and also being put to good use,” Mr Rutherford says.