NZ Apples and Pear welcomes government support: more needs to be done

by | May 11, 2023 | News

New Zealand Apples and Pears is welcoming the Government’s support to clean up orchards but is calling on the government to urgently talk to growers as they recover and rebuild following the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle.

“We simply want some clarity from the Government. We don’t expect all the answers but we are currently operating in an information vacuum,” chairman Richard Punter said.

Ministers have delayed releasing any information until they get a report from the recently established Hawkes Bay Recovery Agency.

“But while they wait, growers have no answers or clarity. This lack of clarity is taking its toll. They can’t continue living in an environment and running businesses with no certainty.”

Mr Punter said the impact of the cyclone is now extending to the Hawke’s Bay economy.

“Growers are making critical decisions now on jobs, next season, and the rebuild of their orchards. These business decisions cannot be made in isolation without information on a recovery plan and they cannot wait. We are already starting to see job losses. The Government funding for the clean-up will make a difference to some orchardists and landowners struggling with the overwhelming costs of recovery. While we welcome the support, it is only the first step in recovery, and not nearly enough to get growers back on their feet. We estimate the sector faces a $1.1 billion cost and have asked the Government for $750 million.”

For the growers of the 4,000 ha of apple orchards devastated by the cyclone, it will take many years to get the land producing again.

“The industry is committed to building back better and a well-supported recovery in our affected regions will not only support apple and pear growers, but will also create 6,000 additional jobs and contribute $1.3 billion annual value to the region by 2030. We urge the Government to provide clarity and support to growers so that they can make decisions that enable them to move forward and rebuild their lives,” Mr Punter said.

Source: Press release

Photo by Matthew Rumph

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