The kiwifruit industry is contacting people who may have recently lost their jobs as the sector grapples with a labour shortage, border closures and the Covid-19 lockdown.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Nikki Johnson said it was establishing a protocol so the harvest could go ahead.
"[It] will involve continuation of good hygiene, employee health checks and social distancing.
''Employee health and safety remains a top priority for the industry and we will continue to follow Ministry of Health guidelines.''
The kiwifruit industry needs about 20,000 seasonal workers during the peak harvest in May - most in the Bay of Plenty.
Immigration New Zealand said 9793 Regional Seasonal Employment scheme visa holders are in the country but estimated another 4000 did not make it before the border closed.
Johnson said about half of the seasonal workforce were backpackers and overseas workers on the RSE scheme.
''While some of these are currently in New Zealand, in a normal year, we would expect more workers to enter the country to work around now and they will not be able to travel here.''
But she said it was pleasing to see after April 2, RSE visas would be extended automatically.
In the meantime the industry was calling Kiwis.
''We are also reaching out to people who may have recently lost their jobs and are looking for new opportunities. There is a large shortage of seasonal workers at this time, [but] the industry is also receiving a lot of interest from potential workers to help pick and pack.''
''Very rarely do growers see such potential risk and reward within one harvest. All growers with clearances are encouraged to pick their kiwifruit now.''
Eastpack chief executive Hamish Simson said it still needed several hundred workers across all of its six sites but that would change ''day by day''.
On average it employs about 3200 seasonal workers when the sites were fully staffed and he encouraged those who needed jobs to come forward.
Simson supported the government's decision to close the borders and it had already stepped up its food safety and hygiene procedures and Covid-19 contingency plans at all plants.
''We are keeping people safe, educated and updated to avoid any anxiety.''
Seeka chief executive Michael Franks annouced last week it had a labour shortage and more than 300 jobs were available across their kiwifruit orchard and post-harvest operations in the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Northland.
Franks said 135 RSE workers due from Malaysia had been restricted after their government closed its borders. ''To date about 5 per cent of the crop Seeka handles has been processed, for the moment we have coped – however in about three weeks we will hit peak flow and need far more people."
"We're open to new solutions, and given there are local businesses affected by coronavirus in tourism or forestry who may be having difficulties keeping staff employed, working in the kiwifruit industry for a short term could be beneficial for everyone. We ask anyone looking for work to get in touch."
Ministry for Social Development regional manager Mike Bryant said it was supporting employers and employees affected by the Covid-19.
The ministry was helping those affected redirect their workforce to industries that are less affected or need workers, like the kiwifruit industry.
''We continue to actively support the kiwifruit industry with their recruitment needs.''
Meanwhile, the ministry had established a rapid response team in the Bay of Plenty which ''is in regular contact with affected employers and their staff to make sure they are aware of all the help and support we can offer them during this difficult time''.
He said about 1500 people from the Bay of Plenty went into work in the kiwifruit sector last season.
An Immigration New Zealand spokeswoman said it was unable to comment on specific cases about the border closure.
But 9793 RSE visa holders are in the country and she estimated about 4000 people,who were expected between now and June 30, "will have their arrival disrupted by the border restrictions''.
Zespri said it had also started shipping kiwifruit overseas to markets including Japan, China and Europe.
Chief global supply officer Blair Hamill said this season it expected to supply about 155 million trays - 9 million more than last year - to consumers across the world.