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The New Zealand government is set to let in 2,000 fruit pickers from the Pacific after New Zealand Apples & Pears (NZAPI) welcomed the government’s announcement.
The fruit pickers will be able to enter New Zealand early next year but with strict conditions due to COVID-19.
Chief Executives from the apple, kiwifruit, and summer fruit sectors recently submitted to the government about the risks of not being able to harvest their crops. The industry in apples generates almost $1b in export and domestic earnings.
The fruit is grown on 10,500 hectares from Gisborne to Central Otago.
The apple industry relies solely on New Zealanders, backpackers and RSE workers to harvest a crop that increases each year — but this year due to border closures, it has left a small proportion of backpackers and RSE workers in the country.
The workers will need to enter managed isolation and quarantine facilities upon arrival to New Zealand, with the employers meeting those costs of them staying in isolation.
NZAPI CEO, Alan Pollard says “this is a great example of key sectors coming together to find a solution that addresses both the government and industry concerns. We have worked constructively together with the government to achieve this initial outcome, with a commitment to continue to engage where adjustments may be needed”.
“We acknowledge the balance that the government has had to make between supporting our critical industries and protecting our communities. Scheduling the RSE arrival for early 2021 ensures that spaces remain available for Kiwis who wish to return home for Christmas, and staggering their entry likewise ensures that there is continued capacity for returning kiwis.”
“We will continue to work with the government on other options that offer viable alternatives to the existing MIQ process,” he said.