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COVID-19: Labour shortage but plenty fruits and vegetables available

Empty shelves in the fruits and vegetables aisles and a demand that equals that of Christmas and Easter, and at the same time through the roof, the floricultural market has collapsed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Another challenge on the horizon is that of labour.

The horticultural industry in general relies greatly on international workers and the travel limitations could become a serious issue – especially now that on a global scale, workers showing symptoms of possible contamination are advised to stay home. HortiDaily reports.

“I’ve been on the phone all morning and with this Covid-19 virus and people not being allowed into the country, the farming community in British Columbia [Canada] is in a panic because there’s so many farmers that rely on the arrival of migrant workers from Mexico and Central America. Suddenly they’re asking what’s going to happen now because their workers will have a hard time entering Canada and if they do enter they’ll have to go into two weeks of self-isolation just like all the rest of us. It’s a big issue right now for farmers in B.C.,” said Ian Paton from Delta South to the Delta Optimist.

Also in New Zealand the effects become clear. The industry there greatly relies on backpackers and workers from the Pacific, through various schedules & schemes. Since there will be a shortage of these workers, the industry now looks at other industries to possibly attract workers from.

The situation in Australia is the same. The Federal Government’s announcement that all people arriving in Australia, including citizens, must self-isolate for a fortnight could have implications for agricultural workers.

There’s more going on in the world at the moment. Due to the outbreak, people started stocking up food – including fresh foods and vegetables. Empty supermarket shelves are appearing all over the world.

Brian Filipowich, chairman of the Aquaponics Association, says: “This pandemic shows that we need to invest in local agriculture to boost our supply of local, reliable food. “An American consumer can find similar prices for a tomato grown 100 miles away and a tomato grown in another country 2,000 miles away. But during a global travel ban or category 5 hurricane, your local tomato will still be there. …There will always be another coronavirus-type event, let’s make sure we have a reliable supply of local food for it.”

Read the full article in HortiDaily here

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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