The British government has announced a pilot scheme to allow British fruit and vegetable farmers to recruit non-European Union migrants on temporary visas following Brexit in order to ease labour shortages during busy periods.
Currently, the agriculture sector is heavily reliant on EU workers and farmers have warned of fruit being left to rot in the fields if the supply of seasonal workers was reduced.
Running from spring 2019 until the end of December 2020, during the planned transition period following Britain’s March 2019 EU exit, the pilot scheme will allow 2,500 workers from outside the EU, including Kenya, to come to Britain for up to six months.
In a statement, British Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
“We have listened to the powerful arguments from farmers about the need for seasonal labour to keep the horticulture industry productive and profitable.
“This two year pilot will ease the workforce pressures faced by farmers during busy times of the year. We will review the pilot’s results as we look at how best to support the longer-term needs of industry outside the EU.”
According to the Office of National Statistics, food production is Britain’s largest manufacturing sector, with sales of 70 billion pounds last year.