Tuesday, 01 December 2020 09:55

Making the primary sector sexy

Written by  Peter Burke
MPI director general Ray Smith believes the benefits of working in the primary sector haven't been marketed as effectively as they could have. MPI director general Ray Smith believes the benefits of working in the primary sector haven't been marketed as effectively as they could have.

There is a need to re-orientate New Zealanders into working in the primary sector, according to the director general of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Ray Smith’s comments come as widespread concern is expressed, right across the agricultural sector – especially in horticulture, about the lack of people to harvest crops and work in various jobs.

He believes part of the problem is that the benefits of working in the primary sector haven’t been marketed as effectively as they could have been. Smith says while there are some tough-end jobs that don’t pay well, there are actually a huge number of highly-paid jobs in the sector and that will grow.

“I think that some people in the ag sector could improve their employment practices but, having said that, a hell of a lot are doing really well,” he told Rural News.

“That said, I think some of the models we have operated on in the past will have to change in a world where travel is not so easy. We have relied heavily on migrant labour and now we are going to have to turn more to ourselves and look at how we get Kiwis into these jobs.”

Smith acknowledges that wage rates and the seasonal nature of some of the work is an issue. He says wages have to be attractive for potential employees.

However, he points out that in terms of seasonal work there is the opportunity for people to follow the harvests around – with the likes of apples and kiwifruit. Smith says the kiwifruit industry, in particular, is well organised and does a very good job at attracting New Zealanders to work in their sector.

Smith claims growers have got to take a long term view if they are going to change their workforces.

He says they need to take stock of where they are and improve the situation and that it’s important to treat people with decency and respect; and pay them reasonably well.

“A lot will come from word of mouth. People know who the great employers are and actually most of the great employers aren’t struggling to get staff. You can’t just keep on growing and not have a mechanism for providing labour.”

More like this

CEO fined for NAIT breach

The chief executive of a large Waikato farm business has copped a $3,600 fine for moving 820 unregistered animals to meat processors.

Drought support expanded

The Government will boost its drought support to new parts of the country and continue helping farmers in areas facing long-term dry conditions, says Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor.

National

An 'amaizing' change

The success of some of the early Māori adopters in the kiwifruit industry is starting to catch on.

Machinery & Products

Made in NZ... Hansen Products

Made in New Zealand looks at the wealth of design and manufacturing ability we have in this country, producing productive…

New models mark seventh decade

Celebrating its 70th year – and having already released the fifth generation A Series in January – Valtra has just…

Kubota's new autumn offerings

Kubota, which is gaining traction in the agricultural sector with an ever-broadening portfolio, has announced some additions for autumn.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Bad company

The Hound is among many in the agriculture sector, including many of our top scientists, who are somewhat cynical claims…

Quitters?

OPINION: This old mutt wonders what it is about tall, balding, ex-Fonterra executives and their (non) ability to handle life…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter