Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
Even though the wrath of the pandemic has lessened considerably, a table grape grower, located in Australia, has claimed that the after-effects are now pushing Australian farmers to the absolute limit. The sad aspect of the scenario remains that the pandemic has continued for more than 16 months. Currently, the state restrictions and the border closures, are starting to come back into effect due to the resurgence of the virus. The uncertainty of not knowing the exact conditions of the market that they will be operating in is concerning. Additionally, the severely reduced workforce and lack of information from the government about when solutions or help will arrive is very concerning.
Growers are very stressed due to the pandemic, 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 this scenario.
In June, the Australian government announced a new farm work visa due to the negative effects of the pandemic. It will be offered to residents from 10 South-East Asian nations to help Australian farmers harvest their crops, which traditionally relies heavily on a foreign workforce each year. However, even though there were big announcements for ASEAN visas, but no information about who will be able to access it and most important when. Despite the uncertain times and sentiment with it, there is no doubt that agriculture in Australia has a big future but requires some surgery, not just band-aids. Unfortunately, many people look down on agriculture but forget that this is the primary industry and that everyone eats daily thanks to it.