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Struggling orchardists boosted by Government support package

Orchardists struggling with the ongoing impact of Covid-19 will have access to a new Government support package to help with workforce wellbeing.

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Alan Pollard says losses of about $100 million are expected along with the knock-on effect for provincial communities. Source: 1 NEWS

An investment of $350,000 dollars will go towards wellbeing training for Hawke's Bay growers as well as wellness workshops nationwide in April.

It comes as New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) has released its updated 2021 crop estimate, saying unpicked fruit could mean a $100 million loss in export earnings.

CEO of NZAPI, Alan Pollard, says there is no coming back from the plunge this season, which is already midway through.

“It’s a significant hit, we did a forecast back in January which indicated that on best estimates at that time it would be about seven per cent below the previous year, now that we’ve got into the season – almost halfway point, it’s very clear that we can’t achieve those so it’s a significant hit for the industry,” he says.

He says that equates to about $100 million and that isn’t just the loss of earnings for the industry, Pollard says.

“It’s also the loss of earnings for the industry, it’s all those consequential flow-on effects for provincial communities that we are concerned about,” he says.

He says it could be anything from $300-600 million plus to provincial economies.

Pollard says he welcomes the relief package from the Government announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor today.

“We are really concerned about stress and distress amongst the growing community and about mental health and wellbeing so really delighted that the ministry has acknowledged that,” Pollard says.

“We’ve got growers in Nelson and Central Otago who have been hugely impacted by significant hail events so they are already feeling the stress and a labour shortage just adds a compounding factor to that,” he says.

“Growers have been stressed for some time.”