The annual problem faced by New Zealand’s horticulture industry regarding the lack of seasonal labour has actually been eased in recent weeks. The rising unemployment prompted by the coronavirus pandemic is leading to locals looking for employment in agriculture, one of the few essential services allowed to operate in the current lockdown conditions across the country. This comes at a critical point as the harvests of apple, and pear and kiwifruit hit their peaks.
New Zealand’s agriculture minister, Damien O’Connor, underlined the importance of the country’s agricultural sector at a time like this, underlining that it is “becoming a lifeline for a number of redeployed workers from industries such as tourism, forestry and hospitality.”
According to data from New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers, many firms now have a workforce of up to 90% New Zealanders, compared to the industry average of around 50% last season.