Qld trots out prizes for berry pickers

Prize bonanza offered up to strawberry pickers

Multimedia
PLAN: Jon and Bernie Carmichael and Brendon and Ashley Hoyle of Ashbern Farms. Photo: Fran Flynn Photography

PLAN: Jon and Bernie Carmichael and Brendon and Ashley Hoyle of Ashbern Farms. Photo: Fran Flynn Photography

Aa

Cash prizes are being used to lure workers for the winter harvest.

Aa

THE Queensland strawberry industry is turning to cash prizes to lure workers for the winter harvest, offering up a $100,000 jackpot in a "pick an envelope" style promotion.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association has come up with the promotion in a bid to combat the harvest labour shortage caused by the exodus of the backpacker workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The incentive program registration portal opened online last Thursday with registered workers at participating strawberry farms earning entry points for each week they work.

At the end of the season in October, 10 people will be selected at random to go in the draw, which will allow them to pick one out of 100 envelopes.

The Queensland strawberry sector is pushing to get enough workers for the winter cropping season.

One envelope will contain the $100,000 jackpot and the remaining 99 will contain $1000 consolation prizes. The game will be played 10 times, once for each chosen entrant.

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association president Adrian Schultz said they hoped the added incentives would help encourage workers to give strawberry picking and packing a go.

"We knew we had to come up with something that would get people's attention," he said.

"This is something different, it's innovative to do this on an industry level.

RELATED READING

"Hopefully this will also mean at the end of the season we have farm ready, farm fit people who can go into other commodities."

Mr Schultz said picking was hard work but it was a great opportunity too.

"To get a workforce of about 7000 we need 15,000 people to give it a try," he said.

"Strawberries are a crop that has to come off every two to three days, it doesn't matter if it's hot or if it's wet and muddy.

ENTICED: The Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association is offering up incentives to help entice pickers and packers. Photo: Fran Flynn Photography

ENTICED: The Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association is offering up incentives to help entice pickers and packers. Photo: Fran Flynn Photography

"There's going to be plenty of people that will try it and realise it's not for them, but there are also people who surprise you and end up being one of your best pickers or packers."

The overall program will also encourage workers to work hard and then spend their days exploring the surrounding region, doubling as promotion for tourism operators who have also been affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Brendan Hoyle from Ashbern Farms, which grows strawberries in the Glass House Mountains and at Stanthorpe, said he thought it was an exciting idea.

"This time last year we noticed the effect that COVID-19 was going to have on the workforce," he said.

"We managed to skate through the winter season and we really started to be affected over the summer.

"We've been dropping our crop back to numbers we think we can get out of the ground.

"We're running at about 60 per cent of what we normally would and we've done the same for our winter season."

Sign up here to Good Fruit and Vegetables weekly newsletter for all the latest horticulture news each Thursday...

The story Qld trots out prizes for berry pickers first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by