The Prince of Wales has called on “pickers who are stickers” to join a national effort to help farmers with the “unglamorous” job of harvesting their crops.

Prince Charles backed the Government’s initiative to bring UK workers and farmers together to ensure crops are not left to rot in the ground during the pandemic.

He likened the “vital” project to the women’s land army during the Second World War to help boost Britain’s food production.

The prince said in a video: “Food does not happen by magic, it all begins with our remarkable farmers and growers.

“If the last few weeks have proved anything, it is that food is precious and valued, and it cannot be taken for granted.

“This is why that great movement of the Second World War – the land army – is being rediscovered in the newly created ‘Pick For Britain’ campaign.

“In the coming months, many thousands of people will be needed to bring in the crops. It will be hard graft but is hugely important if we are to avoid the growing crops going to waste.”

He added: “The phrase I have often heard is ‘pickers who are stickers’.

“I do not doubt that the work will be unglamorous and, at times, challenging. But it is of the utmost importance and, at the height of this global pandemic, you will be making a vital contribution to the national effort.”

The Pick For Britain website, launched by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, aims to bring farmers together with those seeking work.

But while some Herefordshire farms have struggled to find workers to harvest fruit and vegetables, one farmer near Kington has found a land army of his own.

From rugby players to local residents, Richard Williams has been able to carry on, almost as normal, thanks to the goodwill of the local community, as well as those who have been put on the Government’s Job Retention Scheme or made redundant.

Mr Williams said his Penrhos Spirits business partner Charles Turner also grows fruit at his own farm in Kings Pyon. Tomorrow (Friday) he will be inducting 25 workers, including university students, school leavers and furloughed hospitality staff, to work alongside 20 regular pickers from Eastern Europe.

And at his own farm at Lyonshall, where Penrhos Spirits operates from, Mr Williams has a workforce similarly made up of new, British workers and returning pickers from previous years.

“We’ve got five who have worked at the Cider Barns in Pembridge, they said they would come and work for us and we’ve got them the whole summer,” he said.

“Then we’ve also got quite a few from Burgoynes Marquees, we’ve got a gamekeeper, a builder, a scaffolding and they’re working on the structural team.

“Going back a month or so we had quite a lot of players from Luctonians Rugby Club who were looking for a bit of work, so they came to help us prune and erect tunnels. Some of them are with us now and some aren’t.

“I would say I’m getting two or three phone calls every day of people looking for work, I’ve been inundated. I’ve also had ladies get in touch from Kington, it’s like the land army all over again. I’ve been really surprised at the level of interest wanting to work.”

He added: “To get a field of cherries ready, the labour, work and input that go into it is a huge cost. And then I thought am I actually going to get anyone to pick this?

“We needed 40 pickers and then you’ve got a window of about two weeks otherwise they’re gone, I was very worrying but now we’re pretty much covered.”