Leo Skliros on the challenges facing NT growers this mango season

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Australia is set to have a successful mango season this year, with between nine and 10 million trays predicted to be produced nationwide, ABC News has reported.

But according to Northern Territory Farmers, the industry is still dealing with COVID-related workforce shortages, with some growers unable to take full advantage of a successful mango season in the NT.

Other farmers, such as Leo Skliros from Berry Springs, are also dealing with damage to their mangoes due to rainy weather almost three weeks ago in the territory.

Two of every three mangoes picked at Leo’s farm are rain affected. As many as possible have been sold for juicing, but many will go to waste and piles of them sit underneath mango trees around the packing centre.

Mangoes.

“It’s perfectly good on the inside, but damn ugly to look at,” he told ABC News.

All up, between unpicked fruit, transport shortages and rain damage, Leo, who is also the president of the NT Mango Industry Association, said 40 percent of his crop will go to waste.

“People are down 60 to 40 percent of their workforce — it’s a real challenge,” he said.

Some industry experts in the NT have put these workplace shortages down to a stipulation in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, which only allows farmers to employ Pacific workers for a minimum of six months, when they are needed for much less.

A DFAT spokesperson told ABC News the government was working to increase the number of PALM scheme workers in Australia to around 35,000 by June 2023.

Source: ABC News.

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