[18 September/Stuff]

The expansion of the Central Otago cherry industry means there may not be enough beds for the workers required to harvest them. More than 465 hectares of cherry trees are expected to be planted across the region, which represented a 56 percent increase on the current level. An additional 284 hectares of grapes were also likely, which would be a 14 percent increase. Central Otago Labour Market Governance Group Chairman, Stephen Jeffery, said it was important that the horticulture industries and community knew how much growth was expected so they could plan to accommodate seasonal workers. He noted growers were optimistic, but the growth was contingent on solving the labour challenges. An extra 1,186 workers would be needed during peak seasons over the next five years. The report predicted an additional 6,198 beds would be required to cater for peak harvest demand. The report made 13 specific recommendations.