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COVID-19 – What the growers are saying

Business Management

APAL spoke to a number of growers across the country over the last few days to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them, what measures they have in place to manage the situation and what can be done in the future.

Remember, for the latest information regarding COVID-19 and what it means for our industry, be sure to be checking APAL’s COVID-19 information and resources page.

Joe Ceravolo

Ceravolo Orchards and Ashton Valley Fresh

Oakbank, South Australia

“In terms of the virus, we’re just trying to do what we can.

“We want to make sure if there is an outbreak, we’re as prepared as we can be.

“We’ve actually given every one of our employees a hand sanitiser to take around with them, so they can be clean, not just before eating or whatever, but whenever they want.

“We have a meeting every morning so everyone’s on the same page.

“The industry has been good in terms of trying to educate. I certainly think there is enough info out there, if people want it, it is there.”

Joyce and Joe Ceravolo

Trish Vigliaturo

P & A Vigliaturo Orchards

Ardmona, Victoria

“We’re setting up lots of meetings, having lots of chats with our employees, setting up lots of signs in different languages so everyone can understand.

“I guess that’s the thing, communication is probably the most important thing when it comes to this, and just making sure everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.

“We’ve got a cleaning schedule, where everyone is disinfecting switches and graders and door handles, even keyboards!

“Our exports have completely stopped. I think quite a few people are turning to sea freight, but that can be a bit of a worry.

“We feel well informed, between APAL and Fruit Growers Victoria and the food safety groups.

“I guess the one thing we would like is if the different industries were talking to each other. It feels like everyone is affected by this and so there’s so much overlap between industries, so something like the transport industry – making sure we’re talking to those guys about what is required.

“It’d be great to know that we are all on the same page with what’s required from this.”

Mat Fox

RK & J Fox and Son Orchards

Pemberton, Western Australia

“The virus is making things a bit difficult.

“It’s hard. You obviously have to keep your distance, but sometimes just practically with some things it’s tricky.

“We’ve got all of our guys living together, and they are not able to go into the city or anything like that.

“We’re just trying to put as many things in place as we can, especially in a packing house with the signage, hand sanitiser, cleanliness and things like that. It’s all the same things as usual, same principles really, just more than we would usually do. It might be a good thing in that as an industry, we become better at doing these things that we’d usually do anyway.”

Mat Fox

Adrian Brown,

Sassafras Orchards

Sassafras, Tasmania

“It hasn’t been too bad for us, early on we struggled with getting numbers to pick fruit.

“In the end quite a few backpackers have stuck around, probably a bit longer than they usually do. We’ve also had quite few locals come through.

“So labour wise it has been okay.”

Daniel Nicoletti

Nicoletti Orchards

Stanthorpe, Queensland

“Sales have slowed down a bit for us.

“We’re keeping a closed circle of staff, and we’re all being very careful with the social distancing, which isn’t too difficult on orchards to be honest.

“For us, I think it’s difficult because we’re really battling with the drought up here, and the virus and the recent bushfires probably get a bit more of the attention from the media. It’s frustrating.”

Greg Mouat

GR & KP Mouat

Batlow, New South Wales

“Obviously it’s a much lighter crop for us this year, but the people we do have picking more or less keep to themselves.

“We’ve had enquiries from backpackers in the cities but to be honest, there isn’t the work and they could also be bringing something with them.

“On the packing line we’ve got face masks, we’ve slowed things down so that it isn’t as frantic as usual, and we can practice the social distancing a bit more.

“We’ve all just got to do the best we can with this. Generally speaking, I think it’s a case of the more isolated, the better. “


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