We sat down with Fremantle-born Paul Da Silva to hear his story and gain his insight into the horticulture industry in Western Australia. From humble beginnings as a first-generation Australian, Paul has taken his parent’s involvement in the horticulture industry and has turned it into a successful business. The following is an interview conducted by the members of our WA Harvest Trail office.
How long have you had your current property?
This business is only 2 years old, but I have been growing strawberries for 10 years and been involved in strawberries since he was 18 doing a variety of different roles.
Do you have any plans to expand or to diversify?
Would like to but can’t at this point of time.
What are the biggest challenges you face at the moment?
Having a consistent workforce, no other challenges at the moment really. The other issue is that we have the basic need for food but not the basic understanding of how the food is produced. The consumers don’t understand that to supply just Woolworths in WA would take over 300 people per day to pack those strawberries. People are happy to pay $6.00 for a coffee but not $2.00 for a punnet of strawberries.
Do you have children and if so, are any of them likely to take up work in the hort industry?
Yes, I have a 13, 15 year old who work on the farm. My 20 year old is the full time Sales Manager in Perth operations and my 19 year old is the Farm Manager. My 4-year-old is a professional tester of strawberries.
Any advice for working holiday makers or other workers?
The farmer is extremely busy, out of control busy and their investment in the farm runs into the millions so turn up ready to work. Bring your TFN, Passport, bank details and superannuation details. Ensure your paperwork is correct as the time to correct issues is valuable.
Any advice for other growers when it comes to workers?
When it comes to workers sometimes you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. There are millions of them in and out all we have to remember is they are still young kids and you need to try think on their level and that some are away from families. Treat them like family and with respect. You get more from you
Thank you, Paul, for your insight into the horticulture industry at this difficult time.
Interested in contributing to our grower profiles? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to be featured in future newsletters