Lincolnshire students urged to help pick fruit and veg

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image captionGovernment department Defra is encouraging people across the UK "to help bring the harvest in"

Students are being urged to spend their summer holidays working on farms to help keep Britain fed during the coronavirus crisis.

Farms are struggling after lockdown lead to a shortage of migrant workers.

Sixth-form, college and university students have been encouraged to help pick fruit and vegetables.

A "student land army" is needed to bring in the harvest, according to the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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image captionFruit and vegetable growers are said to be desperate for more workers to help gather crops

Lincolnshire produces a quarter of the country's vegetables with the local food sector employing 56,000 people.

However, travel restrictions put in place to combat coronavirus means farms in the area are struggling to recruit the workers they need.

Students have now been asked to "support national food security through local food supply chains" by signing up to work on farms.

Sarah Louise Fairburn, chair of the enterprise partnership's food board, said: "A student land army can have a significant impact on the national effort to overcome the pandemic emergency and will give students a chance to earn an income while they're not studying."

The appeal has been shared by educational establishments across Lincolnshire as well as by the local council in neighbouring Rutland.

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The UK is said to be approaching its peak summer harvest season with 80,000 seasonal workers needed from the end of May.

A national campaign is underway to recruit workers and prevent millions of tonnes of fruit and vegetables from going to waste.

image captionMany UK growers depend on seasonal migrant workers from Eastern Europe

Much of the work is normally done by seasonal migrant labourers, although overseas workers have been affected by travel restrictions.

Last month it was reported that Eastern European farm workers were being flown to the UK on charter flights to pick fruit and vegetable crops.

The National Farmers' Union has called on "young, fit" university students and people who have found themselves out of work to join the farming and food industry during the crisis.

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