The peak harvest season is expected to be short, running for about 21 days, with a forecast 14 million cartons of apples being packed, a jump of 1.3 million cartons compared to last year.
Since October the Ministry had placed 820 jobseekers into the region's horticulture industry. The last labour shortage declaration for all of Hawke's Bay was made in 2010 when the unemployment rate was at 6.4 percent. The current rate is 5.6 percent.
Gary Jones of Pipfruit NZ: "There are at least 350 registered vacancies at the moment. The real number is likely to be higher than that.”
According to stuff.co.nz, Monday's declaration means visitors presently in the country who did not have a work visa would be able to apply for a variation to their visitor's visa allowing them to undertake seasonal work in the horticulture/viticulture industries for 6 weeks.
Jones said pickers were paid "well above the minimum wage" ($15.75 an hour), with the pay for those working in the pack houses depending on experience.