Seasonal workers from the Pacific hard at work at NT mango farms

Just weeks after arriving in the Northern Territory as a seasonal worker, Samoan woman Tavai Tofaeono already considers Australia her second home.

The 34-year-old arrived in Darwin in September and works at a packing shed in Berry Springs, where she has been picking and sorting mangoes.

"Life in Samoa is really tough," she said. "I have a lot of family … I am supporting them.

"The company we [are] working [for] … we love their hospitality. The way they treat us Samoans is why we don't want to go back to Samoa … Australia is like a second family to us."

Around 380 seasonal workers from Vanuatu and Samoa have arrived in Darwin since August to help boost the Territory's mango-picking workforce for this year's harvest.

They joined about 160 seasonal workers from Vanuatu who arrived in September last year, as part of a trial program.

Red Rich Fruits' farming operations manager, Tim Teague, said Pacific workers have filled a crucial labour shortage caused by dwindling backpacker numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"They're vital … seasons wouldn't be possible without them at the moment," Mr Teague said.

"[Backpackers] can pick and choose where they work and we just don't have the numbers available to fill workforces."

The Northern Territory Farmers Association (NTFA) has estimated the flights and quarantine expenses for each worker has cost the industry about $1.5 million.

It said almost 12 months of negotiations were necessary to bring the workers to Australia, with approvals required from the Northern Territory government, the Commonwealth and the governments of Vanuatu and Samoa.

"Some of the countries we were talking to initially had COVID outbreaks, so we had to restart the negotiation process with a new country," NTFA chief executive Paul Burke said.

"We landed on Vanuatu and Samoa as relatively safe and stable."