Huelva’s strawberry crops in Spain spoil as farm workers refuse entry
Strawberry crops in Huelva, Spain, abandoned as farm workers refused to enter the country.
Casablanca, Morocco: Dozens of women demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Moroccan National Employment Agency (Anapec) on Friday April 9 to denounce the fact that, for the second year in a row, they were unable to go to Huelva to work harvesting strawberries.
Despite having a contract and paying for the visa, they complained that there are 1,200 temporary workers in this situation and demanded a solution. For many, work is the only resource their families have to survive. No explanation, workers said, has been given by authorities although due to the pandemic and restrictions in place, even flights to mainland Spain have been suspended.
It is also understood that some workers waiting to come to Spain had tested positive for the coronavirus.
For the 2020-2021 campaign, it has been agreed to hire 14000 temporary workers plus a reserve of 2,000, explains a spokesperson for Interfresa, the employers’ association that brings together the main industries of the sector in Huelva.
In the end, 12,725 arrived, according to data provided by the government sub-delegation. The pandemic abruptly interrupted the arrival of Moroccan day laborers last year. Of the 17,000 planned, only In fact, 7,100 people made it through the strait before Morocco ordered its borders closed.
The agricultural associations of Huelva do not understand what is happening on the other side of the Mediterranean and are asking for even more manpower. “We need everyone to come and we haven’t put any barriers in place.
“Our contacts in Morocco say that some (workers) could not be contacted, and others have changed their minds …” said Manuel Piedra, secretary general of UPA Huelva. A spokesperson for Asaja (Agrarian Association of Young Farmers) said the organization had ordered a contingent of 400 temporary workers from Anapec and had yet to receive a response.
According to reports, since the end of December, an average of 1,200 Moroccan workers have crossed the strait from the port of Tangier Med to Algeciras and traveled in chartered boats every Wednesday and Friday to work on the strawberry campaign.
The logistics deployed specifically for these temporary workers and paid for by the agricultural companies of Huelva show the exceptional importance of these workers for the strawberry sector, which represents 8% of the Andalusian total GDP, according to data provided by Interfresa.
The sudden border closures forced them to remain stranded for almost a month in Spanish territory last year. Farmers are now reducing the size of strawberry crops or not planting at all for fear that the fruits will rot on the ground due to the shortage of pickers.
Huelva is the largest producer of strawberries in Europe. This is due to the fact that it has 248 hours of sunshine per month in spring and a very small range of atmospheric temperature between day and night, and most importantly, fertile land which means that 95% of this fruit in Spain is cultivated. in this province.
Spanish airline repatriates Mercy flights for 300 nationals stranded in Morocco
Spain’s national carrier, Iberia Airlines, brought 300 Spanish nationals back from Morocco’s Casablanca airport earlier in the week – more flights are planned.
Overall, around 3,000 Spanish residents are estimated to be currently stranded in Morocco after the Moroccan government decided to shut down travel links between the two countries to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.