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China market drives New Zealand's blossoming cherry growth
Last Updated: 2015-05-13 16:16 | Xinhua
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New Zealand's southern Otago region is taking on an oriental fragrance of cherry blossom as it steps up production of the fruit for Chinese and Asian markets, the government statistics agency revealed Wednesday.

The planted area of cherries was up 7 percent from 2012 to 660 hectares in June last year -- and it was almost entirely in the South Island's Otago region, according to Statistics New Zealand.

In the June 2014 year, the main export destinations for cherries were Taiwan (34 percent), the China mainland (20 percent) and Thailand (16 percent).

Meanwhile, the number of sheep in New Zealand had declined to its lowest figure in more than 70 years to 29.8 million.

"The number of sheep fell by 3 percent from 2013. The last time the sheep number was below 30 million was back in 1943," agriculture statistics manager Neil Kelly said in a statement.

The number of dairy cattle was up 3 percent to just under 6.7 million in the year ending June 2014.

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