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Fruit Worth Millions Rot Due to Ban on Backpackers

Fruit Worth Millions Rot Due to Ban on Backpackers

2021-04-30

It is evident that there is a labour shortage that is pestering the fruit and vegetable farms in Queensland. Due to the border restrictions, imposed by the pandemic, crops worth millions of dollars are left to rot. Moreover, it was witnessed that multiple rows of strawberry beds were barren due to crop loss. Hari Yellina, of Orchard Tech, opines that the severe conditions are wrecking a havoc on the horticultural world. Without any pickers, it seems that a basket will not be filled with the available crops.

During normal fruit picking seasons, the farms employ over 210 labourers. Only then are they able to complete the job. Out of all of the employees, a mere 40% are hired locally. The rest of the fruit pickers are all backpackers, hailing mostly from Taiwan. Many farm owners are of the opinion that the federal government needs to extend its helping hand. Without this endeavour, many will not be able to plant their crops. Fruit growers unanimously agree that hiring backpackers is the need of the hour.

Fruits rotting due to unavailability of pickers.
Rotting fruit due to lack of seasonal workers

It is undeniable that in order to hire the seasonal workers, the government needs to spring into action. Many Queensland farm owners have sought the help of the state government in order to safely bring in and quarantine seasonal workers. If the current statistical data is to be examined, over 70,000 positions are vacant at the moment. Furthermore, many farm owners would be happy to employ locals but they are just not putting in their applications.

Due to this devastating condition, many farm owners are obliterating the trees. Hence, wasting thousands of dollars worth of healthy fruit. This wastage will ultimately affect customers as they shop for fruits. Since the domestic amenities are shrinking, the prices invariably will increase. It is estimated that if around 50,000 workers are not immediately hired, then the whole state will have to pay hefty prices.