The Australian federal government will be offering new incentives to attract Australians into farm work in a bid to address critical labour shortages that will cripple fruit and vegetable suppliers around the country.
The move comes as the countrys fruit and vegetable industry predicts it will have over 20,000 casual labour shortages over the next six months as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
In a report for Horticulture Innovation Australia, Ernst & Young estimated that workforce shortage across the industry would increase from November this year and reach a peak of 26,000 in March 2021.
The survey-based analysis also identified seven key production regions to be hardest hit, including Cairns and Wide Bay region in Queensland; North West Victoria and Shepparton; Coffs Harbour, Grafton and the Murray regions in New South Wales; and South Australias southeastern region.
Finding enough casuals to pick and pack fruit and vegetables has always been a long-term issue for Australian growers, and the international and state border closures have exacerbated the situation.
AUSVEG, Australias industry body for vegetable and potato growers, is urging state and federal government to act promptly to help growers get access to essential farmworkers from home and overseas.
“Immediate interventions are required to increase the availability of willing and able workers to work on fruit and vegetable farms,” said AUSVEG CEO James White in a statement on Sept. 30.
Among top measures he singled out was the prioritisation of the Seasonal Worker Program to resume flights to pacific islands to facilitate the transit of overseas labourers.
In August, the federal and northern territory governments launched a pilot seasonal workers program, which has enabled 163 workers from Vanuatu to enter the territory to harvest mangoes.
White Also wants the government to develop an appropriate incentive program for domestic workers who are willing to work on farms.
“Growers always have a preference to employ local workers, particularly during the current economic environment that is resulting in many Australians losing their livelihoods,” said White. “But more needs to be done to develop targeted incentive packages to entice willing and able local workers to work on farms.”
This also highlights the importance of “the effective movement of farmworkers across state borders” which need to be addressed by state governments.
New Incentives Targeting Welfare Recipients
Prime minister Scott Morrison signalled at a media conference in Canberra on Sept. 29th that more measures would be announced soon to facilitate access to overseas and local workers.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud also indicated on Sept. 30 that there would be new incentives for Australians oRead More – Source
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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