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New Zealand: Kiwi farmers seek workers amid pandemic

Fruit growers fear 'big losses, far-reaching consequences' due to non-availability of labor

Riyaz Ul Khaliq   | 07.12.2020
New Zealand: Kiwi farmers seek workers amid pandemic



Strict COVID-19 measures, which helped New Zealand suppress the deadly infection, have left the country's farmer community without foreign workers' support, according to local media on Monday.

Exporters in the horticulture sector are seeking permission for foreign workers to be allowed to enter the country, Radio New Zealand reported.

"Next year, 2,000 seasonal pickers will arrive from the Pacific in the New Year but the industry said it would still be well short and many locals simply were not suitable for the jobs," the report added.

The country's largest organic apple producer Bostock New Zealand had run an advertising campaign to recruit nearly 300 apple orchard workers "but only 55 people got jobs."

"There were many reasons why New Zealanders were not suitable for the work: they're not available for as long as they need to be, not fit for the job, underage, could not commit to the job or had family or animal/pet obligations that could not fit around the work," the horticulture companies have argued.

New Zealand is leading the global fight against COVID-19 with no restriction on normal business activity inside the country as the infections have been suppressed to very low numbers recently.

The island country has reported a total of 2,079 infections, including 25 deaths, since the outbreak in December 2019.

If workers do not come back on time, the horticulture producers fear "big losses and far-reaching consequences."

The producers said: "There would be a reduction in regional spending and the investments in new permanent staff or capital equipment would drop away."

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