Job seekers offered $1,000 to travel north and harvest ripening melon crop – with more cash bonuses for working 30-hour weeks

  • Coronavirus travel restrictions leaves growers short of labourers to pick fruit
  • More than 75,000 tonnes of melon crop supply needs to be harvested now 
  • Fruit pickers will be paid $1000 with $200 bonus for working a 30 hour week
  • Workers with licences to operate trucks and forklifts are also in high demand 

The Northern Territory is offering thousands of dollars to fruit pickers who travel to the Top End and help harvest the ripening melon crop.

Coronavirus travel restrictions and closed borders have stopped foreign backpackers travelling to Australia, leaving growers desperately short of labourers to pick their fruit.

The NT government wants Australian workers to fill the shortfall and help harvest the 75,000-tonne melon crop, which includes seeded and seedless watermelons and rockmelons.

The Northern Territory government will pay thousands of dollars to fruit pickers who travel to the Top End and help harvest the ripening melon crop

The $70 million per year NT industry is critical to national melon supply and allows shoppers to buy the fruit all year round.

The NT government is offering $1000 per worker for up to 200 workers to pick the fruit, along with $480,000 for bonuses to help businesses retain them.

A bonus of $200 per week will be available for people that work a minimum of 30 hours per week, for at least five weeks between April 12 and July 12.

‘We produce the best melons in Australia and we have to get them off our farms into grocery shops and supermarkets across Australia,’ Minister for Agribusiness Nicole Manison said on Thursday.

‘Our message is simple, come to the Territory to work in a great place, have a great experience, and pick our melons.’

The jobs on offer include picking, packing, sorting and logistics roles.

Growers in the NT are in desperate need of labourers to help harvest more than 75,000 tonnes of ripened melon crop

Growers in the NT are in desperate need of labourers to help harvest more than 75,000 tonnes of ripened melon crop

Workers with licenses to operate forklifts, trucks and production machinery will be in hot demand.

Ms Manison said the NT’s seasonal and overseas workforce has fallen by 73 per cent over the past year.

The NT Farmers Association attempted to arrange workers to come from Timor Leste to help harvest the melon crop, but COVID-19 stopped that.

The association has previously brought two groups of South Pacific fruit pickers to the Territory to help harvest the mango crop in September and October.

About 320 labourers from Vanuatu helped pick about 33,000 tonnes of the fruit, worth more than $100 million.

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