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NZ: As COVID-19 decimates job numbers, one Kiwi industry can’t hire fast enough

Breaking the silence of a nationwide lockdown, the hum of a tractor is the only sound. Farmers are among the country’s essential workers, so farms and fields are remaining busy keeping food on Kiwis’ plates. And despite panic-buying, there is no shortage. New Zealand could survive on potatoes alone, writes Conor Whitten in an article published by Newshub Nation.

“We produce about half-a-billion kilos annually,” Potatoes New Zealand CEO Chris Claridge told Newshub Nation. “That’s 125kg per man, woman and child. We’ve had between 30 and 50 percent increase in demand from the supermarkets.”

Across food production business is booming, driven by Kiwis stocking up. There’s plenty of food but a shortage of workers as coronavirus fears keep staff away.

“What we do need is labour and staff- that’s the critical issue going forward, that people feel confident coming to work, they feel safe and we can retain our workforce,” says Claridge. 

The nation’s growers are still in business but in the midst of a level 4 lockdown, business as usual has to change. There are strict safety measures and at least two metres of social distance applies here too. 

But it’s not enough to satisfy every worker. Newshub Nation understands some food producers have a third of their staff not turning up.

“We’re concerned we don’t have adequate labour in the packhouses to continue to produce domestically, but also for export internationally.”

Read the full article on Newshub Nation, and watch a video as well

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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