Wednesday, 08 April 2020 10:16

Horticulture sector offers work during COVID-19 crisis

Written by  Peter Burke
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

More New Zealanders are taking up the chance to work in horticulture amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

That's according to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Overseas workers traditionally fill roles in horticulture, but because of COVID-19 precautions many are not available. O’Connor says NZ Kiwifruit Growers reports some businesses now have a workforce of over 90% New Zealanders, compared to around 50% last season. 

Last week alone, more than 100 staff were placed into roles in the Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Nelson. O’Connor says the pipfruit industry has seen around 200 workers from other industries placed into jobs across the country.

“It is great to see Kiwis taking up the opportunity to be part of this essential industry. Now is a peak time for picking apples and kiwifruit.  Workers are in high demand and more are needed. There are jobs going all over the country in our key growing areas and the Government is working alongside the primary sector to help ensure workers get to the places they are needed.”

O’Connor says the Government is currently investigating further ways we can boost the primary sector essential workforce through its $100m redeployment scheme.

Meanwhile, he says there is no shortage of demand for NZ produce and the world needs a continuous supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Our country is in the position to help do that.”

 O’Connor says the primary sector is part of the solution to global food security concerns in the short-term and will play a critical role in NZ’s economic recovery after Covid-19. 

 He has paid tribute to the farmers, growers, meat workers, fruit pickers and all the others for helping the primary sector to keep operating as an essential service during the Covid-19 global pandemic. 

More like this

Editorial: Europe, can you hear us?

OPINION: Once again there's a flurry of activity as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Trade Damien O'Connor and a band of dedicated officials and leading agricultural representatives fly into Brussels where the powerful European Union is based.

Hang on, mate!

OPINION: Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor's hurried exit from a farming radio interview has left farmers perplexed.

Govt invests in wool

The Government says it is investing to create new product categories and new international markets for strong wool and is calling on Kiwi businesses and consumers to get behind the environmentally friendly fibre.

O'Connor attends WTO meeting

Trade Minister Damien O'Connor is currently in Geneva for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 12th Ministerial Conference.


All hands on deck

Growers are mucking in and helping staff to pick this year's kiwifruit crop.

Aiming for homegrown NZ gin

Despite a plethora of new gins appearing all over NZ, the country is yet to grow local juniper berries at…

Machinery & Products

JD establishes new hort JV

John Deere claims a joint venture between it and California-based technology company GUSS will assist horticulture producers achieve greater on-farm…

Mulchers set the standard

Orizzonti is well known in the viticulture and orchard sectors for its specialised range of mowers and mulchers.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

No free ride!

OPINION: This old mutt is getting somewhat tired of multi-national, tax-dodging, fund-raising group Greenpeace always given front and centre mainstream…

How come?

OPINION: A mate of yours truly is questioning exactly why the Māori ag sector have been given special budget funding by…

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter