The recruiting of 170 Pacific islanders to pick the NT's rich mango crop is a drop in the ocean, opponents have claimed.
NT Farmers has identified a shortage of up to 1000 workers across the Territory largely from pandemic bans on international arrivals.
The NT has traditionally relied heavily on a backpacker workforce.
The Federal Opposition says the Vanuatu recruitment scheme announced this week was too little and too late.
Opposition Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said the scheme was more aimed at the August 22 NT election rather than fixing the problem.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud this week said a trial would see up to 170 workers under the Seasonal Worker Program come to Australia to help with the 2020 harvest, with more workers to potentially follow subject to a review of the first cohort and approval for additional numbers by the NT Government.
Mr Littleproud said the Samoan Government had also been approached to provide pickers for the NT "and is considering the proposal".
But Mr Fitzgibbon said the Government's trial was not even enough to fix the NT's labour shortfall.
Mr Fitzgibbon, said the third-term Liberal/National Government promised a 'National Agriculture Workforce Strategy' by July 2020 and even set-up a National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee to drive it.
"The agriculture sector has faced workforce challenges for a number of years, and the Federal Government has known about it as evidenced by its Agriculture Workforce Strategy. The COVID crisis has merely exacerbated labour shortfalls because of travel restrictions.
"Australia's international backpacker arrivals have dropped by around 55,000 since the beginning of the year, and internal border closures and restrictions are adding further tension to this already chaotic system," said Mr Fitzgibbon.
The National Farmers' Federation have made it clear that this is not a new problem claiming that: "Even in a typical year, the farm sector's workforce is inadequate. With international and state travel restrictions, this year, farmers spanning fruit and vegetable production, wool and grain growing are anxious about how they will find the people power they need to get the job done."
Opposition Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, said it's crucial the Government gets programs like these right.
"Pacific labour mobility programs are so important to strengthening Australia's relationship with these countries," Mr Conroy said.
"They are a great way for our nation to support the Pacific region while also addressing local labour shortages.
"The Coalition Government needs to do better than a poorly thought-out scheme announced on the eve of an election."
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