Tuesday, 17 November 2020 08:55

Hort keen to work

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President of Horticulture New Zealand Barry O'Neil says he is keen to work with the government in the post-Covid recovery. President of Horticulture New Zealand Barry O'Neil says he is keen to work with the government in the post-Covid recovery.

Horticulture New Zealand says it is keen to work with the government in the post-Covid recovery.

“We’re keen to continue to work constructively with Minister Damien O’Conner, including in his new role as Trade and Export Growth Economic Minister,” says HortNZ president, Barry O’Neil.

The grower organisation says it also wants to ensure the horticulture industry is enabled to grow, while at the same time responding to its environmental and climate change obligations.

“In 2019, the New Zealand horticulture industry was worth more $6.39 billion and has grown by 64% in the past ten years. That is thanks to industry innovation and grower investment in new varieties and growing techniques to stay ahead of international competition and respond to consumer preferences.

“This growth is also because the industry is a sustainable user of land.”

O’Neil says while the future is promising, the horticulture industry’s most pressing issue is right now is finding enough seasonal labour for the coming harvest.

“We estimate that even with a significant uplift in the numbers of New Zealanders being employed, we will still have a shortfall of approximately 10,000 people.

“That is why we want to see the border opened now so people from Covid-free Pacific nations can come and work the harvest, as they have done for the past 13 years under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.”

O’Neil says other horticulture industry challenges include water storage, biosecurity protection and ensuring that vegetable growing can continue in New Zealand.

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