Help is now at hand for fruit farmers

3rd August 2020 | Eativity editors

Good news for growers: NSW citrus farmers who feared their harvest would be left to rot due to a lack of workers will now have access to additional help after the NSW Government overturned its ban on seasonal workers.

The citrus harvest in NSW can now resume following the NSW Government’s decision, which will allow seasonal workers who’ve resided in the defined NSW and Victoria border zone, which includes towns such as Mildura, to cross the border to undertake farm work in NSW.

Workers will first need to access a border zone resident permit. To access the permit, seasonal workers will be required to declare they haven’t travelled in Victoria, outside the border zone, in the last 14 days. They’ll also be required to produce evidence of their place of residence and place of work.

The orange harvest will now go ahead, saving unpicked fruit from going to waste.

This means farmers will have the workers they need to keep primary production moving in NSW, and ensures the $1.4 billion southern horticultural industry has a successful harvest.

Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock says growers working around the clock will minimise damage caused by worker restrictions, while support from packers will ensure quality fruit will be delivered to domestic and export markets.

“We are pleased for our growers, who work tirelessly every year to produce world-class citrus, and for the seasonal workers that are essential to harvest every year,” he says.

“Our priority from the onset of the pandemic has always been to help our growers prepare the safest working environment possible. They worked hard to do this and we’re glad that their harvest can resume safely.”

Could workers from Vanuatu help save the Northern Territory mango harvest?

Meanwhile, in the Northern Territory, the mango harvest may also be saved by a Federal Government plan to allow up to 200 workers to come from Vanuatu to pick mangoes in the Northern Territory, despite Australia’s borders being closed because of COVID-19.

Northern Territory Primary Industries Minister Paul Kirby says there have been no recorded cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu, but the workers will still need to spend two weeks in quarantine before commencing work. However, at this stage, there has been no formal approval of the pilot plan.