Will There Be Enough Fruit Pickers This Season?
There is a potential shortage of seasonal workers in the fruit grower industry due to COVID-19. The fruit picking season is almost upon us, so a plan is needed to ensure the industry survival. Nic Hansen is the president of Fruit Growers Tasmania who gave some insights to Brian Carlton about this issue.
“The berry season across the state starts in October and runs through to about May. It is the longest of the three main fruit seasons. The second season is the cherry season starting in mid-December until the first week of February, then it is the apple season”
The berry industry alone requires many seasonal workers each year, around 4-5 thousand workers. It is not just picking the fruit, but many forms of work during the season including supervision, ferrying of fruit back and forth, forklift drivers and in the packing houses.
“We presented a mini submission to the Premiers COVID recovery plan with a 3-4-point plan on how we have addressed potential worker deficiencies this coming year”
They have a current website called Harvest Trail, where workers and employers have a shared site dedicated to which work is available. They have also suggested that backpackers get a free pass on the Spirit of Tasmania as due to the type of visas they hold to come into Australia, it would be easy to set up.
Nic hopes that by September - October, things will be getting back to normal and the fruit industry can run smoothly for another season.