17 August 2021
Kia ora koutou
In my column last week, I celebrated the Government’s decision around the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme as well as the success of the 2021 Horticulture Conference. This positive sentiment was in the context of the industry’s fundamentals, which align well with New Zealand and the world’s objectives: providing people with fresh, healthy food with minimal environmental impact.
A major theme of the conference was resilience, wellbeing and mental fitness. One of the recommendations during these sessions was planning, writing things down and ticking them off, particularly during periods of stress and uncertainty.
While the most recent announcement from the Government on the RSE scheme is positive, the world is still being ravaged by Covid and the new Delta variant is very virulent. We just need to look across the Tasman to see that.
Like all good business people, growers need to have contingency plans and at least one, well-thought-out Plan B.
What happens if the RSE workers can’t get in to New Zealand due to another border closure? Or the country once again goes into a Level 4 Lockdown, due to community transmission of the more infectious Delta variant?
While things like this are out of the control of individual growers, growers can take action and form some sort of plan:
- Have you and your workers been immunised? Go here for more information about workplace vaccinations.
- Go here to schedule an appointment for yourself: nz or phone 0800 28 29 26, free of change.
- Are you and your workers using the Covid tracer app, wherever they go?
- Are you managing who is entering orchard, market garden or packhouse? Are they signing in and following good hygiene and biosecurity practices?
- Have you a lockdown plan and if you do, have you reviewed it lately?
- How are your supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? Have you got enough for a Level 4 Lockdown of several weeks?
In terms of workers, given previous disruptions and ongoing uncertainty around the border, are you thinking broadly enough about New Zealander workers and the remaining backpackers? How are your networks, with previous workers but also with agencies such as your local Ministry for Social Development office?
Growers have a lot of experience coping with uncertainty. With the weather, you face that virtually every day. None of us can make Covid go away but we can plan for its ongoing impact, as best we can.
Growers and others in the sector can also support one another. Communications and reaching out were other critical factors highlighted at the conference. If I, a member of my staff or the HortNZ Board could help, please get directly in touch.
At the same time, what you say to us can provide us with the kind of information we need to bring the Government’s attention to the ongoing challenges facing our industry. So, please don’t hesitate to let us know what new challenges you are facing by emailing: email@example.com.