Due to the critical labour shortages, Queensland farmers are forced to pay higher wages and provide better conditions, in the hope to attract local workers. The improved conditions come amid warnings of higher prices for consumers as food is left unpicked.
Bundaberg lychee grower Craig van Rooyen said the coronavirus pandemic had forced him to rely on almost 100 locals to get fruit picked and packed. "It's mostly a local workforce for the first time," he told abc.net.au. "We used mainly backpackers in the past, but because of coronavirus that has made it more difficult."
The supply of overseas workers declined significantly after COVID-19 border restrictions curtailed international travel.
The industry is predicting the worker shortage will peak in March with 26,000 people needed to fill horticulture jobs nationwide.
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