Automation and human capital to play key role in growth primary sector NZ

New Zealand witnessed how a primary sector’s growth can be limited more by human resources than by lack of future markets. The growth potential in areas like horticulture in particular is increasingly tempered by the ability to source skilled and willing people.

Today, areas like the Northland with its avocado plantings, Otago with its cherry orchards and even the East Coast with the SunGold kiwifruit plantings, are all grappling with the need for more skilled long-term staff.

The horticulture sector has been creative in meeting those challenges however. Significant incentives have been offered to get New Zealanders moving to areas with the work, including accommodation supplements and bonuses for staff staying longer than six weeks in a position. The recent increase to the living wage of $22.10 an hour now being paid in packhouses in the kiwifruit sector is also receiving positive feedback.

The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme played a valuable role pre-Covid, drawing in up to 13,000 Pacific Island workers with the skills and capacity for hard work that accounted for much of every harvest’s success.

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