Seasonal workers to give economy ‘strawesome’ boost
STRAWBERRY season has arrived for the Sunshine Coast as up to 10,000 pickers and packers fill farms for the coming few months.
Queensland Strawberry Growers Association president Adrian Schultz, who with wife Mandy runs Luvaberry from their Wamuran farm, said the majority of the state's strawberries were grown between Wamuran and Palmwoods.
Mr Schultz said there were about 50 million plants in the ground across the state and each plant yielded a return of about $6, putting the turnover on produce alone about $300 million.
He said the industry was facing a few unknowns when it came to emerging from coronavirus restrictions.
"An influx of backpackers came looking for work when the borders closed," Mr Schultz said.
But he said they were about a month early so a lot were turned away.
He said that was quite sad because a lot of them didn't really have anywhere to go. The workforce will now build up to full strength by next month.
Mr Schultz said he thought that would be about 7000 people but had heard other growers were expecting it to be closer to 10,000.
"That injects a lot of money into the area," Mr Schultz said.
He said he was not sure exactly how much the total would be, but said many businesses in the region looked forward to it.
He said social distancing laws had made backpacker accommodation more difficult but was confident measures, such as an industry development officer's farm visits to help growers comply with requirements, were proving to be effective.