Wednesday, 14 July 2021 10:55

Solution needed!

Written by  Peter Burke
NZKGI's chief executive says the industry is desperate for a solution to the current labour shortage. NZKGI's chief executive says the industry is desperate for a solution to the current labour shortage.

The labour shortage in the kiwifruit industry is crying out for a solution, according to the organisation that represents New Zealand kiwifruit growers.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond says there is a need to have certainty for the coming season and RSE workers from the Pacific Islands are critical. Bond says that would be a boon for the island economies, which are struggling due to the massive impact of Covid-19 on tourism, and for the New Zealand primary sector.

"We see kiwifruit, along with the other horticultural crops, needing certainty of labour supply and one way we can encourage this is by supporting employment of a workforce that can be on the orchards almost year-round."

Bond says NZKGI will continue its labour attraction strategies from previous years. He says this is based on getting good information on the work available to potential workers via collateral and a range of media, including a strong social media programme.

"One development that was expanded this year was to raise awareness of the career possibilities and long-term work available in the industry," he says. "We don't just need workers for the harvest, we need them for crucial winter and summer maintenance work, to ready the vines for the next year's crop."

Bond says in the longer term, the industry is also looking at automation - innovating and expanding into this area. He says NZKGI will be closely reviewing and evaluating its 2021 recruitment programme and assessing the new challenges to identify how the labour uncertainties could be reduced in 2022.

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