The Territory Labor Government has today launched a $745,000 campaign to support the Territory’s $70 million melon industry and ensure farmers have the workforce they need to pick more than 75,000 tonnes of valuable produce this season.
Territory melons fill a critical supply window, allowing Australian consumers to buy produce 12 months of the year.
The Territory Government is partnering with NT Farmers to find 200 workers from across the nation this month.
Traditionally many of the jobs have been filled by overseas and seasonal workers but a dramatic reduction in travellers due to COVID-19 means the bulk of the workers must come from within Australia this year.
The melon farmers had been arranging workers to come from Timor Leste, but due to COVID-19 issues, their workers are not able to assist with the season in time.
The Government will spend $200,000 on a business support package which will give businesses access up to $1000 per worker, for up to 200 workers.
It will also fund a $480,000 loyalty bonus to help businesses retain workers. The bonus of $200 per week will be made available for people that work a minimum of 30 hours per week, for at least 5 weeks between 12 April and 12 July 2021.
The Government will also make available $65,000 to market and advertise the roles. A variety of roles will be available, including picking, packing, sorting and logistics.
Workers with licenses to operate forklifts, trucks and production machinery will be particularly sought after. Melons to be picked include seeded and seedless watermelon varieties and rock melons.
Farmers and workers can register for the program via the Harvest Trail Services at harvesttrail.gov.au.
Quotes from Minister for Agribusiness and Aquaculture, Nicole Manison:
“We produce the best melons in Australia and we have to get them off our farms into grocery shops and supermarkets across Australia”.
“The size of the seasonal and overseas workforce in the Territory is down by about 73 per cent, and that is why we are stepping up to make sure this important Territory industry has the resources it needs this season.
“Our melons are ripe for the picking. So our message is simple – come to the Territory to work in a great place, have a great experience and pick our melons.”
Quotes from NT Farmers President, Simon Smith said:
“The melon industry is worth over $70 million to the Territory Economy, with over 75,000 tonnes of melons to be picked in the coming months it is critical that we attract and retain a skilled and mobile workforce.
“The melon industry has previously relied heavily on Seasonal Workers and international backpackers, both these cohorts of workers are in very short supply.
Quotes from Melons Australia Executive Officer, Jonathon Davey:
“The worker support from the Northern Territory Government is welcome news to our NT growers.
“This support for industry will go a long way to assisting growers to have the required staffing to maintain our harvest, packing and supply of Aussie melons.”