Growers in the area around Ti Tree in the Northern Territory of Australia has seen some varying degrees of misery and success, lately. State border closures due to Covid-19 are heavily influencing the horticultural industry there.
One farm, owned by Marciano Table Grapes, has had little trouble with this year’s harvest, which is now coming to an end, although the start was difficult. But a nearby mango farm has a different story to tell.
“At the start of the year we struggled,” says Marciano Table Grapes general manager Tony Camera, but since many workers have been able to come from Victoria, the farm has had “nearly nil waste”.
The success of the season is not replicated next door at the locally owned Red Centre Farms, which despite producing mangoes of the highest quality, has failed to find pickers and packers for production in the current season. Similar to the positions at the Marciano farm, the mango farm usually brings in workers from interstate, most often travelers looking for work in rural areas who respond to Facebook advertising for farm work.
Owner John Crayford says that in a usual year the farm would employ 15 or 16 workers, five or six packing and the rest picking. This year, none of that has occurred. This year they have relied solely on the sales at their small shop on the farm, where they sell a range of mango products and general store supplies, and travelers who stop to pick their own mangoes and pay per kilo.
Crayford says that usually the shop is far busier during the tourist season of May to October, but due to the border closures around the nation caused by COVID-19, the shop’s traffic was slow.
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