Picking your way to wealth

Your chance to pick strawberries and win $100k in Queensland

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Just join the strawberry army in five picking regions in Queensland and pick your way to a small fortune.

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HEY out there, who wants $100,000?

Of course you do, and now we've got that part sorted here's how you get your hands on enough cash to buy a truly fancy car, maybe the deposit on a home or that unspeakably ostentatious holiday.

Just join the strawberry army and pick your way to a small fortune.

COVID-19 travel restrictions have cut a swathe through the horticultural industry, creating a major shortage of peak demand workers, which has forced many of Queensland's strawberry farmers to reduce the number of plants they're growing and the ripple effect may mean sky high prices this season.

Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association president Adrian Schultz said: "Working holidaymakers normally pick up to 80pc of our fruit in Queensland.

"However, there are 79,000 fewer working holidaymakers left in Australia compared with this time last year - and up to 1000 are leaving per week.

"In addition, there are no new working holidaymakers coming in to replenish this shortage due to the continued closures of international borders".

As well, Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme numbers are still low and too costly for family farms, while local workers have not rallied to the cause.

So Queensland Strawberries is bringing an industry first to the market - an Association-wide promotional activity to incentivise potential workers with the chance to play to win big.

There are 10 x $100,000 cash prizes to be won.

The incentive program registration portal opens today and workers are needed to work from June until October on participating farms across five growing regions in Queensland.

The promotion really aims to attract all kinds of workers to come and try farm work with a view to staying at a single strawberry farm for the entire winter season.

The more average working weeks a worker completes, the more entry points they can earn. All known strawberry farms in Queensland have been given the opportunity to join QSGA and participate in the promotion but a small number have declined.

Strawberries are a challenging crop in many ways as the plants are continuously picked every two-three days across a long period of time - when the berries are ready, they must be picked or they will rot on the plant.

"Without pickers and packers, a farmer can lose entire blocks to disease issues very quickly. It really is the case with strawberries that you cannot negotiate with Mother Nature," QSGA Marketing Manager Jane Richter said.

The overall promotional program will also encourage workers to work hard and then play hard on days off, inviting them to explore some of Queensland's hidden gems and escape the chills of a southern winter.

"Even though there is a feeling of great concern in the industry, we're all really excited about what the incentive program will bring, and we are confident that it will help alleviate the workforce shortage significantly, and not just for our industry," Mr Schultz said.

"It's not all about work work work.

"We want our pickers and packers to enjoy themselves and take the time to explore what beautiful Queensland has to offer too. Of course, we'd love for some of the money paid in wages to be reinvested into our local communities to support our struggling tourism providers, too."

Strawberry industry officials hope their program has other benefits besides giving "a whole bunch of new people" farm experience and training such as tempting other horticultural industries to entice new people to try farm work and a career path in the sector.

The program is not targeted at any specific demographic, though it represents a golden opportunity for recent school and university leavers to backpack their own backyard and it is understood local tourism operators will be offering exclusive deals, discounts and monthly prizes to further boost the value to workers who come to pick and pack for the chance to play to win cash prizes.

So, if you're looking to escape a cold winter, explore Queensland, make good money and most importantly help the Queensland Strawberry industry, then register for work now via the website www.qldstrawberries.com.au

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