THOUSANDS OF tonnes of fruit could rot in the fields because changes to visa applications means there will be no one to pick it, the National Farmers Union has warned.

The Union called on the government to end the uncertainty over the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS).

Students from Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova had made applications for work under the SAWS and were expected to arrive in the UK shortly.

But plans to start the fruit harvest have been thrown into disarray by the government‘s decision to suspend visa applications.

“SAWS operators have been doing all they can to source alternative workers to plug the labour gap,” said NFU president Tim Bennett.

“But they are being hampered in this task by the continuing silence from the Home Office on this issue.”

He urged Home Office Minister, Des Brown, to allow “bone fide” students from Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova to come to the UK and pick the harvest as was originally intended.