Farmers will be told to replace workers with ROBOTS to pick fruit
Farmers will be told to replace low-paid immigrant workers with ROBOTS to pick their fruit and veg under new Government plans
- Leaked Government plan shows s generation of farming robots will be deployed
- Farmers will be told they cannot rely on low-wage seasonal migrant workers
- Fears shoppers will soon face fruit and veg shortages over shortage of workers
A new generation of farming robots will be deployed to replace immigrant fruit and veg pickers, leaked Government plans reveal.
British farmers can no longer rely on low-wage seasonal migrant workers to harvest their crops, meaning different methods of harvesting must be found, ministers will say in a plan to make Britain more self-sufficient.
Officials will soon announce an overhaul of food networks, including a drive for ‘automation in horticulture’ that will mean much greater use of robots.
There are fears that shoppers will soon face shortages of fruit and veg because farms are struggling to find workers to pick them.
Farming leaders have warned of shortages of cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, aubergines and peppers.
The plans are revealed in an unpublished Food Strategy White Paper, leaked to the Mail on Sunday. The paper has been circulated among Cabinet Ministers ahead of publication expected this week.
A new generation of farming robots will be deployed to replace immigrant fruit and veg pickers, leaked Government plans reveal. Pictured: Smart farming agricultural technology
The White Paper promises a new drive to promote the use of robots and machines for farming.
An urgent review of labour issues in farming will be launched in the coming weeks. The leaked paper says: ‘We will work with growers to develop a world leading Horticulture Strategy for England.
‘This will examine the diverse roles of small, large, and emerging growing models, and drive high tech, controlled environment horticulture to increase domestic production. We see an increasing role for automation in horticulture and across the agri-food chain and will support this through our Farming Innovation Programme [a Government funding scheme].’
Many workers have previously come to Britain from Ukraine under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, but the war with Russia has cut off that supply of labour.
There are fears that shoppers will soon face shortages of fruit and veg because farms are struggling to find workers to pick them as the Government is set to deploy farming robots
Farm groups have called on the Government to relax immigration requirements so that 10,000 extra workers can be allowed into the UK this summer to fill gaps.
But the leaked paper shows that the Government is preparing to tell farmers that they cannot rely on migrant labour in the long-run.
Scientists say agricultural robots are improving rapidly. Fieldwork Robotics, a spinout company from the University of Plymouth, recently unveiled one that picks raspberries, long regarded as the hardest challenge for machines.
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