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Australian vegetable growers are looking at a future with fewer workers

Australian growers are investing in automation and mechanization as some predict the shortage of workers will continue long after the pandemic is over. In northern Tasmania, Charlton Farm produces, sorts, and packs around 10,000 tons of onions every year for domestic and international markets. Director Tim Groom said the company had invested in automated bagging equipment a few years back. This was an expensive upgrade, but it has replaced several workers in the shed.

It was also a timely investment, as Groom said Covid-19 had accelerated the ongoing trend of reduced availability of workers. "It's accelerated the need to look at ways of automating processes," Groom said. "I can't see it [labor shortages] going away quickly ... It's going to hang around for quite a few years to come.”

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