Print this page
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

Trans-Tasman ag ministers zoom in on biosecurity

When New Zealand’s Agriculture, Biosecurity and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor met with his new Australian counterpart yesterday, the subject of biosecurity was top of their agenda.

Lincoln students connect with key players

Forming connections with future employers and celebrating academic achievement were on the menu for 160 students at Lincoln University’s inaugural Food and Fibre Awards and Networking Dinner earlier this week.

The Landing - sequestering on site

Covid-19 has slowed some carbon emission initiatives at The Landing in Northland, but reforestation is continuing at pace, with more than 10,000 native trees planted in the past year alone.

UK FTA makes progress

NZ's free trade deal with the United Kingdom is a step closer, with the legislation enacting the deal having its first reading in Parliament in late July.


Machinery & Products

It pays to automate!

With the hort industry struggling to attract staff at key times of the growing season, many businesses are taking the…

New tech sizes-up fruit

NZ agritech company Hectre and its Spectre app are delivering fruit size and colour data to US packers and growers…

One-pass, four-row planting

The latest version of root crop specialist Grimme’s GL420 Exacta potato planter offers four-row planting in 90cm row widths.

Auto packer saves time, labour

New fruit packing technology – developed by a NZ company – is said to be dramatically reducing packhouse labour needs.