Seasonal labour demand
Lessons from weather data
The timing of when agricultural produce ripens, and the intense periods when labour is required, are strongly affected by that year’s weather. This means that farm schedules need to flexibly adjust to the weather experienced each year. However, under current arrangements for some foreign seasonal workers, growers have to fix hiring start and end dates ahead of when the fruit picking period is known.
This case study used historical weather data for mango-growing locations in the Darwin region to illustrate how much the peak period of demand for fruit pickers varies between years, and the challenges this creates for scheduling and hiring workers. More agility in immigration programs for foreign seasonal workers could enhance benefits to both employers and employees.