As the pandemic starts to show its effects in Australia, farmers have expressed their great concern over productivity and yield. As state restrictions start to intensify, this may be in the form of border restrictions or lockdowns, farm owners are having trouble coping with the shortage of labour. Farming is not easy as it looks; we know that and we can deal with the traditional ups and downs, but the pandemic is pushing growers to the limit. Growers are very stressed about the effects.
There are more farms for sale in the market and a clear uncertainty on the market response for the upcoming season. A daily shrinking of the workforce and probably a global economy more fragile than before requires quick and tangible actions before the summer starts. Extra shifts, not just hours, are the new normal ahead; a lack of workers is taking its toll on people. Most input costs are increasing, putting big pressure on returns in markets that are uncertain by the time of harvest, making it very hard to prepare for the effects of the scenario, as if there is an attempt to cut corners, there is a possibility of losing quality and then someone can usurp the share.
There were big announcements for ASEAN visas, but no information about who will be able to access it and most important when was announced by the government. Hence, the actual effects of the visa remain unknown. Luring workers with bonuses and free handouts seems the logical way to attract people, however, once a new option opens for free money they move regardless. So productivity and competitiveness are just words in the air. The worst part is the lack of vision of the government and people who can do something. For the last two years, we are living in a fortress. Celebrities and selected people are coming in, but we are restricted in our ability to do business overseas as we can not get out.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)