Newshub: Horticulture jobs ripe for the picking amid COVID-19 economic downturn

People desperate for work due to the impact of Covid-19 are being urged to check out the horticulture sector.

Many workers from industries affected by the pandemic have already sought work in horticulture, with a lack of overseas workers leading to more availability of work in the sector.

Gisborne apple orchardist Natalya Egan says she is welcoming workers with open arms.

“Usually there would be a lot more backpackers around that would fill those jobs and it’s worked out really well that we’ve been able to employ people from other industries that haven’t been able to carry on through the lockdown period,” Egan told Newshb.

She says strict measures are in place to ensure workers maintain a two-metre distance from each other at all times and COVID-19 health regulations are being met.

It’s currently peak time for picking apples and kiwifruit, meaning there are plenty of jobs available.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says workers are in high demand with over 20,000 needed at the peak of harvest.

“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,” says O’Connor.

“We are currently investigating further ways we can boost the primary sector essential workforce through the Government’s $100m redeployment scheme.”

O’Connor says that some businesses in the kiwfruit industry now have a workforce comprised 90 percent of New Zealanders, compared to 50 percent last year.

Despite interruptions to global supply chains due to COVID-19, he says New Zealand produce is still in demand around the world.

“The world needs a continuous supply of fresh fruit and vegetables and our country is in the position to help do that.”

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