Australia has announced plans to accept 12,000 refugees from Iraq and Syria, and the horticulture industry is eyeing the potential for an influx of new workers.
In a statement Sept. 15, the industry’s Voice of Agriculture group said it is actively engaging with major employers and growers across Australia and seeking meetings with politicians to ensure that labor hiring arrangements are both attractive and flexible.
Australia’s horticulture industry employs more than 60,000 people and is forecast to increase production in the future, requiring growth in the number of workers, the group said.
Craig Boyce, CEO of Integrity Fruit, a consortium of larger apple, pear and stone fruit growers, said migrants from the Middle East have already made a significant contribution to the industry.
“Middle Eastern workers have distinguished themselves by their work ethic, ability to pick up and apply skills as well as their commitment to the industry,” Boyce said.