Around 11,000 people whose working visas are set to expire over the 2020/21 season have been granted a new visa.
“Growers are keen to get back the recovery and provide displaced New Zealand with jobs,” says Hort NZ chief executive Mike Chapman.
“However, they are wary about the possible impact of central and local government decisions around freshwater, land use, labour availability, and education and training.”
Chapman says the sector wants to work in partnership with central and local government to achieve common goals when it comes to land and freshwater management.
Chapman says the survey also shows that access to labour has been a handbrake on growth – which the sector has been pointing out for years.
“While it is good news that many New Zealanders may want a new career in horticulture, those people will need training, and several will need support to relocate and adjust to different working conditions.”
HortNZ says there will still be a reliance on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to enable horticulture to grow and employ more New Zealanders on a permanent basis.
Meanwhile, Chapman agrees with another key finding of the survey that worldwide demand for New Zealand-grown fruit and vegetables will increase long-term.
“Our fruit and vegetables are grown to the highest possible standard and with complete transparency,” he explains. “This gives consumers in New Zealand and across the world absolute confidence, for which they are prepared to pay a premium.”