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Government funds Kiwifruit pathways

File photo.

Up to $200,000 is being invested into a kiwifruit training programme to help the kiwifruit industry provide employment opportunities, the Government announced today.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says this will help people into work and meet urgent seasonal demand in the sector.

“We know that people have lost their jobs because of COVID-19, and we know there is significant and urgent demand for trained workers in the horticulture sector,” says O’Connor.

“During lockdown the kiwifruit industry provided a lifeline for a number of displaced workers from industries such as tourism, forestry and hospitality.

“We want to continue to connect people with jobs in horticulture, and more broadly in the primary industries because we know these sectors will be key to our economic recovery.”

The 2020 Budget allocates $19.3 million over four years to fund initiatives to help recently unemployed New Zealanders access training and work opportunities in the primary sector.

“This is the first project to be funded as part of this initiative,” says O’Connor.

“In the immediate term, the aim is to place at least 10,000 New Zealanders in primary sector jobs by rapidly retraining and absorbing workers displaced from other sectors.”

Already, indicative figures show kiwifruit businesses have employed around 70 per cent New Zealanders, with some businesses employing up to 90 percent, compared to around 50 per cent last season.

“We know the interest is there, we want to build on that and, in the longer term, retain workers to meet current and future needs.

“Right now the focus for kiwifruit growers is to complete pruning over winter. This is critical for next year’s production.

“We’re not wasting any time, these courses will start this month.”

Jacinda Ardern is attending Trevelyan’s Kiwifruit and Avocado Packhouse today to provide further details on the announcement.

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