Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) has a bee in its bonnet over the lack of Kiwi apiarists.
The industry body wants more Kiwis to become beekeepers so that the lucrative and rapidly expanding apiculture industry is not so reliant on skilled migrant labour.
But ApiNZ chief executive, Daniel Paul, says without locally trained apiarists there remains a need to import skills from offshore.
“Our industry is expanding rapidly. World markets can’t get enough of our honeys, especially Manuka, and demand for pollination services continues to increase,” Mr Paul says. “The beekeeping and honey products sector is very buoyant at the moment but we have a labour shortage.
“At present we are relying on skilled migrant labour, but we really want more Kiwis to join the industry so they can take advantage of the opportunities it offers.” Mr Paul says in this $5 billion dollar plus a year industry, honey exports alone are worth nearly $300 million a year with scope to increase that to more than $1 billion per year.
“There are plenty of opportunities for New Zealanders to train and take up jobs in the apiculture sector and those opportunities will only increase as our industry expands.”
To help manage the industry’s beekeeping needs and labour force planning over time, ApiNZ is working closely with Immigration New Zealand (INZ – part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment).
The intentions of both bodies will be to develop, implement and maintain a plan that will see more New Zealanders take up apiculture jobs as the industry develops.
INZ spokesperson, Steve McGill, says the agreement is consistent with the Ministry’s commitment to shaping and delivering a strong economy.
“We see our support for the industry’s longer term workforce planning as a service that underpins the growth and prosperity of the apiculture industry and the wider New Zealand economy.”