Failure by the Government to provide further direction in cyclone-ravaged Hawke's Bay is costing the local horticulture industry more than $1m a day.
"Growers in Hawke's Bay are extremely frustrated by the lack of leadership from the Government," says HortNZ President Barry O'Neil.
"Hawkes Bay horticulture contributes more than $1.2 billion to the New Zealand economy and employs more than 6700 permanent workers. Growers are being forced to lay off people, which will have an immediate and significant flow-on effect in the region, economically and socially."
"This Government promised further direction in early April, but here we are today, in early May, and we still don't have the decisions needed on land use and infrastructure rebuild that our industry needs to move on and recover."
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report released today estimates the loss this year alone to Hawke's Bay horticulture to be $500m. Between 2024 and 2030, the industry stands to lose $3.5bn if the Government does not stand by horticulture and hurry up its decisions, the report concludes.
However, if the Government does come through with the leadership needed, the report outlines how the horticulture industry can be even more successful than it was, both economically and socially.
"The industry wants to 'Grow Back Better," says Barry. "But to do that, it needs to make immediate decisions about replanting options, rebuilding infrastructure, and securing people in the sector."
"If these decisions cannot be made right now, the industry will not be able to recover to the extent envisaged. Unfortunately, Hawke's Bay will pay dearly for this, in lost export earnings and jobs, which will have a huge impact on the community.'
The BCG report estimates that with immediate Government direction and support, 6000 more permanent jobs could be created in Hawke's Bay as part of the horticulture industry's recovery.
Barry says that while the BCG report focuses on Hawke's Bay, HortNZ is fully aware that Cyclone Gabrielle had a much wider impact.
"HortNZ continues to advocate strongly for Gisborne, Northland, Pukekohe, and northern Manawatu's recoveries, in the interests of strong regional economies, food security for New Zealand, and continued export growth."