Framework to support seasonal workers’ investment in agriculture launched

The Framework for the Reintegration of Agriculture Workers in Labour Mobility Programs was launched during Labour Day. Photo: DARD

A framework designed to provide supportive pathways for seasonal workers wanting to invest their money earned abroad in the agriculture sector has recently been launched.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Ishmael Kalsakau, responsible for labour launched the Framework for the Reintegration of Agriculture Workers in Labour Mobility Programs in the presence of officials from the Labour Department and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB).

Director General (DG) of MALFFB, Moses Amos, said the framework will support workers become business ready investors.

“It is designed to start in the provinces, with pre-departure support before they leave Vanuatu, and continuing when they return,” he said.

“It also covers support and training for the families that will stay behind, encouraging planning as a family. For it is often these families that are keeping the farms and businesses going while the workers are away.

“The government of Vanuatu wants to ensure that our participation in the seasonal work programs has long-term positive impacts in our country and its development, not just short-term ones, as we navigate our future graduating from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status.

“We wish to work with our development partners to ensure this opportunity for Ni-Vanuatu not just to gain employment and attain remittances but also to up-skill and expand their options on returning to Vanuatu.”

Hundreds of Ni-Vanuatu workers have been sent overseas in recent months with over 7,000 people registering interest to work overseas in February and March this year.

In 2019, Vanuatu had approximately 10,000 workers in the labour mobility schemes in New Zealand and Australia, which is the highest number of workers participating from any Pacific country.

Now, as Vanuatu is dealing with the economic and social impact of compounding disasters as cyclones and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, labour mobility has gained increased importance.

It presents the promise of employment and opportunity for the country’s strong and capable young workforce during this time of global crisis.

Also, it’s an opportunity to support neighboring New Zealand and Australia facing severe labour shortfall on fruit and vegetable farms.

DG Amos commended the development partners, Department of Labour, Provincial Governments, Area Councils, agents and others who helped to design and implement many of the training, coaching and mentoring courses outlined in the Framework.

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