One of Australia’s largest fruit growers has warned that the nation may experience fresh fruit shortages if Australia does not act to secure a worker quarantine facility.
Managing Director of Piñata Farms, Gavin Scurr, stated that he fully supports the agricultural industry’s proposal to utilize the Bladin Point Worker Village as a quarantine facility for seasonal workers. It is located less than one hour from Darwin International Airport and hospital.
It comes as the agricultural industry is facing a possible shortage of 20,000 workers due to a lack of suitable quarantine facilities.
“The Bladin Point facility presents the government with an opportunity to alleviate the critical worker shortage in Australia,” Mr Scurr said. "Failure to secure the facility will make it extremely difficult for us to harvest our crops. If the worker shortage is not addressed, Australia may face shortages of locally grown food. There are simply not enough workers to harvest and pack our produce. Action must be taken to safely allow seasonal workers into the country.”
Photo credit: Piñata Farms/Aqua PR
The company is Australia’s largest pineapple producer, it is also a significant grower of mangoes and berries and it supplies to Australia’s three largest supermarket chains. It has numerous operations in six Australian states and Territories. The Business employs 70 full-time workers and nearly 500 seasonal workers prior to COVID-19.
He says Piñata Farms is committed to employing locals however, the size of the worker shortage means that he must also secure workers from overseas to supplement our workforce.
“Piñata Farms alone is facing a shortage of over 150 seasonal workers,” Mr Scurr said. “With the upcoming mango harvest, it is going to be a real struggle to harvest all our produce across Australia. Without a sufficient harvest workforce, consumers will miss out on our healthy and fresh produce.”
The facility is currently being used by the Australian Defence Force as a quarantine facility, the lease on the premises expires on July 15. Mr Scurr says the agricultural and hospitality industries have been calling on the Commonwealth government to utilize it as a seasonal worker quarantine facility.