Halt to hiring from south Asian nation will exacerbate labour shortages
London: British farms have stopped recruiting workers from Nepal following warnings that the UK’s immigration system was exposing the south Asian migrants to exploitation.
All five of the recruitment companies licensed to bring farm labourers to the UK on temporary visas have publicly announced. According to Financial Times that they are not hiring workers from the country this year.
Not all the UK-based agencies had recruited from Nepal but the abrupt halt to recruitment from the nation, where almost a 10th of seasonal workers came from in 2022, risks exacerbating the acute labour shortage on British farms.
Last summer, tens of millions of pounds’ worth of fresh produce was left to rot because there were not enough workers to harvest the crops.
In 2022, the number of Nepalese workers arriving through the UK’s seasonal worker scheme more than quadrupled to 2,472 after Brexit and the Ukraine war left farms more dependent on workers from outside Europe.
But the surge in Nepalese arrivals sparked warnings from campaigners, who said workers from Asia were routinely charged excessive recruitment fees by job-finding agencies in their home country. They added that many migrants had struggled to pay off their debts and afford accommodation and food.