'This just cannot happen'

New Zealand: $ 9.5 billion at risk as horticulture sector struggles to find labor

In parts of New Zealand, the shortage of horticultural workers due to Covid restrictions is putting $ 9.5 billion of the country’s economy at risk. This was made clear by New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the government was "actively looking at additional options" to support the agricultural sector. “We are acutely aware of the pressures Covid-19 is placing on that sector, as well as many others across the economy.”

“But the Government is also conscious of the need to ensure New Zealanders, who have lost jobs due to Covid-19, have the chance to redeploy into new jobs. Thousands of New Zealanders are facing unemployment because of Covid-19. We need employers to make every effort to give those people new job opportunities, and we know many are.”

Stuff.co.nz reported how, during the lockdown, kiwifruit businesses employed about 70 per cent New Zealanders, with some businesses employing up to 90 per cent, compared to around 50 percent last season, he said.

New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said, on the shortages: “This is an issue facing many regions throughout New Zealand, putting at risk $ 9.5 billion in the country’s overall economy. This just cannot happen.“

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