Tuesday, 20 October 2020 08:55

Vege crops at risk of rotting

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Growers are warning consumers to brace for significant price increases for vegetables. Growers are warning consumers to brace for significant price increases for vegetables.

Fruit and vegetable growers are warning their produce will be left unpicked and rotting in the fields unless the Government approves urgent visas for overseas workers.

The growers are also telling consumers to brace for significant price increases for vegetables, strawberries, stone fruit, cherries and watermelons.

Vijay Bhana, of Pukekohe family-owned vegetable producer Hira Bhana & Co. Ltd, says the situation is pretty serious.

Bhana told Rural News that his company hires around 30 extra workers, mostly from the Pacific Islands, every year for harvesting and pack house duties.

With no overseas workers available due to Covid border closures, the company had placed job advertisements on Trade Me and the Ministry of Social Development websites for locals. The response was very poor, he says.

Without enough workers, Hira Bhana & Co. faces the risk of vegetables left unpicked and packed for customers.

Bhana says this season’s lettuce crop is ready for harvesting.

“We don’t use machines; the lettuce is hand cut… we can’t leave the lettuce in the ground for too long as they would over mature and rot. 

“This will then lead to prices of vegetables increasing because of the losses.”

Bhana cannot understand why the Government isn’t allowing overseas workers in. “They are allowing rugby players and film makers. It seems very unfair.”

Questions sent to caretaker Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi’s office remained unanswered as Rural News went to the press.

Fourteen major growers and distributors say in a joint statement that they are now “in crisis” and are calling for action.

The growers say “time and time again” they have told the Government of their predicament around worker shortages.

However, they claim nothing has changed just because more people are out of work.   

“There is such a shortage of people available for horticultural work that there will still be plenty of work for New Zealanders in the roles they prefer (those that offer flexibility in work hours for example). 

“However, without having a core experienced staff of overseas workers the crops will not get harvested outside and there will not be work for New Zealanders.”

The growers say because of the Government’s “intransigence”, early harvested crops will soon be rotting in the ground and prices will skyrocket due to lack of availability.

“Export markets will be lost as our direct competitors, Australia, are currently recruiting overseas workers as they normally would.”

More like this

Hort heads for new heights

Pretty impressive - that's how Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor describes MPI's latest prediction that horticulture exports will hit the record $7 billion mark in 2023.

Tears of frustration over MIQ

Despite rural contractors being told in mid-December they could bring in 200 skilled machinery operators into the country, not one has been given any MIQ space.

No pass, no entry

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) has announced that My Vaccine Pass will be compulsory for all wishing to attend FMG Young Farmer of the Year events.

No jab, no entry!

Unvaccinated dairy farmers won't be able to attend in-person events run by DairyNZ.

National

Hort heads for new heights

Pretty impressive - that's how Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor describes MPI's latest prediction that horticulture exports will hit the record…

Machinery & Products

New look for MF brand

Massey Ferguson has a new look for its iconic triple triangle logo, as well a completely new 'Born to Farm'…

Solution to rowdy livestock

After walking away with a Fieldays Innovation Award back in June 2021, Springarm Products has now signed a sole marketing…

Look ma - no hands!

Although this month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is usually associated with the "geek brigade", global manufacturer John…

Telehandler range gets a lift

Kramer has introduced a further two models to its telehandler range – the mini KT144 and the medium-sized KT3610.

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Woof, woof!

OPINION: This old mutt has been pointing out forever just what a dog with fleas - as both a business…

DJ friends?

OPINION: Your canine crusader wants to know just what drugs the politicians and bureaucrats are on in Wellington.

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter