Thousands of British workers will need to gather the harvest

FILE PHOTO: Local residents pick asparagus as they work at Dyas Farms, as foreign workers, the backbone of UK's agriculture force, are missing from the country's fields thanks to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Sevenscore, Britain April 16, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

LONDON (Reuters) - Thousands of British workers will need to help gather the harvest as seasonal workers from other parts of Europe are unable to travel due to the coronavirus lockdown, the environment minister said on Wednesday.

British Environment Secretary George Eustice said that in a normal year around 30,000 people come from mainly the European Union to do seasonal agricultural work, though only a third are here now.

“We will need a significant number of British people, in particular those who have been furloughed they have the chance if they want,” Eustice told BBC radio.

“We are getting huge interest from people wanting to do this,” he said. “We need tens of thousands of people to do this work.”

The peak comes at the end of May and during June, he said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton