Hence the Association Farmer Strawberries Queensland (QSGA) is offering a cash prize of 100,000 Australian dollars, or more than Rp. 1 billion, to attract people willing to work to help harvest strawberries in winter 2021.
Australian farmers have reported heavy losses due to unavailability of workers to harvest crops.
Most of the strawberry farmer Queensland has even reduced land under cultivation this year, while some are not growing strawberries at all for fear of nothing to help harvest the crop.
QSGA announced plans to make this year’s harvest a race by offering prize money or holiday vouchers.
“We want the participants to try to win the race as well as work hard,” said Adrian Schultz, President of QSGA
“We encourage anyone interested in trying strawberry pickers to come to Queensland in winter and enjoy the harvest season.
“The longer you work in the fields, the more likely you are to get a 100,000 Australian dollar prize at the end of the season.”
Workers are busy growing strawberries on various farms in Queensland. (ABC Rural: Melanie Groves)
How to do it?
Those who work will get “points” for being able to enter the lottery.
“All employees will go in the lottery and the winner will be determined by a computer,” Adrian said.
“Ten people will be selected and each of the 10 people has a chance of getting 100,000 Australian dollars,” he added.
Adrian said the workers would then be taken to a strawberry field where 100 envelopes would be distributed.
“One of these envelopes contains 100,000 Australian dollars in bills, while every other envelope contains 1,000 Australian dollars,” he said.
“So if you don’t win 100,000 Australian dollars, at least the others will get the money to buy beer.”
Ten strawberry pickers will be selected to get a prize money of IDR 1 billion.
About 7,000 workers are required
The strawberry industry has already asked others to take care of the logistical issues of distributing gifts, using insured promotions and advertising budgets to fund prizes.
They also offer other gifts, such as a vacation for a few months to a local tourist area after the harvest season ends.
Adrian said the strawberry industry in Queensland needed about seven thousand workers to help with picking.
“We are looking for anyone who wants to come to work,” he said.
“Of course this job is not suitable for everyone and when it comes, we are not necessarily successful. But we ourselves are sometimes surprised by the skills of people who come to work.”
The Queensdland Strawberry Growers Association will do its utmost to prevent workers from being mistreated.
Security is more important
The offer of a cash prize may be of interest to workers.
However, the horticultural industry, such as strawberries, was not the choice of many people because of the poor conditions of the workers and the inadequate pay.
According to Adrian, various efforts have been made to ensure that there is no more exploitation of fruit pickers.
People interested in working will be allowed to check the fields before registering.
If on probation they don’t convince the prospective worker or employer, they can try another field.
“What we’ve been doing is gathering lots of information, so if you don’t like working on one farm or getting bad treatment, then you know where to go,” said Schultz again.
“All this information will be available and in six different languages. So hopefully it covers everything there is.”
Farmers in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay are now starting to grow strawberries which will be harvested in the winter months ahead.
One of them is Brendan Hoyle, who says he only planted about 60 percent of what he used to do in previous years.
“These are difficult times,” he said.
“We are taking care to make sure we can harvest the entire crop.”
Brendan said that this year many things have changed from before.
“The cost of harvesting and also for packaging products has increased,” he said.
However, this collaboration has brought unexpected benefits.
Brendan also said that farmers can share their labor with each other.
“Usually we are just busy with ourselves, but with a difficult situation like now, we try to help others.
“Because we are in the same situation.”