Hawke's Bay's horticultural workers have wrapped up this year's harvest, despite the unprecedented challenges created by Covid-19.

The 2020 harvest saw one of the largest crops ever produced for the apple and pear sector.

About 400,000 tonnes of fruit were harvested for the season, of which 273,000 tonnes would be exported.

New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAP) Manager of Trade Policy and Strategy Gary Jones said that represents a value to the Hawke's Bay economy of $582m.

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"A figure that with the right support could be tripled by 2030," he said.

NZAP Chief Executive Alan Pollard said the apple and pear industry adapted quickly to the Covid-19 response.

"As an essential service, the industry was able to continue to operate but with strict hygiene and social distancing practices in place", he said.

"That was particularly challenging for our packhouse operations, but in the space of two or so weeks we had completely re-engineered an industry that nationally generates $1bn in revenue and employs more than 3000 permanent and 12,000 seasonal staff – that has been a tremendous achievement."

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the sector was a vital contributor to the district's economy and congratulated its workers for continuing to operate within the Covid-19 restrictions.

"To have managed to harvest our crops in difficult circumstances is testament to the good management and dedication of those involved with the harvest," she said.

"These sectors are going to be extremely important as we move into the recovery phase and as a council we will continue to do whatever we can to support the industry."

Pollard said RSE workers play an important part of the success story of the industry, with the RSE scheme an important part of New Zealand's contribution to Pacific Island development.

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"Their incredibly hard work enables us to have confidence that our crop can be harvested, and gives confidence for the industry to continue to invest and grow, which in turn creates real permanent jobs for New Zealanders," he said.

"The money that RSE workers earn in New Zealand is reinvested back in their home countries. These earnings have transformed the health, wealth and wellbeing of families and communities".

Hastings District Council were due to celebrate the diversity of the horticultural industry with a Harvest Festival in April this year, but the event was postponed due to Covid-19.