An analysis by two Christchurch economists has underlined the value of the farming sector to the country during the Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown.
The horticulture business is looking for 300 local people across their kiwifruit orchard and post-harvest operations in Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Northland.
Seeka chief executive, Michael Franks says the usual flow of people to work for them in their eight facilities across the North Island has been impacted.
“The number of backpackers through our doors is low, and a significant portion of our experienced Recognised Seasonal Employee (RSE) scheme employees have been restricted from departing their country,” he says.
Franks outlined that 135 RSE workers scheduled from Malaysia had been restricted by their Government closing its borders for both inbound and outbound travellers. The New Zealand Government had allowed these vacancies to be filled with workers from the Pacific Islands. However, Seeka is still 300 workers short.
“While we look to employ New Zealanders first and foremost, we also need to find other sources of workers such as backpackers and those from the RSE scheme as the harvesting and packing window of kiwifruit is relatively short,” Franks says.
“To date around 5% of crop Seeka handles has been processed, for the moment we have coped – however in about three weeks we will hit peak flow and need far more numbers of people.
Each year Seeka needs 3,000 seasonal workers. Seasonal jobs start in March and finish around mid-June.