Hungary: Strawberry growers struggling with shortage of labourers

Hungary is currently suffering a shortage of labourers to harvest domestic strawberries. Although the hourly wage has improved in recent years, this is still only a fraction of what is paid abroad, so many choose to go harvest in the west.

Most Hungarians go to Austria and Germany, where they expect average wages of 8-10 Euro per hour, and Hungarian growers are unable to compete against this," said Ferenc Apáti, vice president of the FruitVeb-Hungarian Vegetables and Fruit Interprofessional Organization and Product Board. According to Apáti, this year, it is becoming increasingly difficult to harvest the 10,000 tonnes of domestic strawberries that are usually produced each season.

According to Apáti, a solution would be to employ guest workers from Romania, Ukraine or Serbia, but they prefer to go elsewhere. The Ukrainians to Poland, the Romanians to Italy or Spain, and the Serbs to Austria. Besides, the public work program doesn't help solve the problem, because most of the people registered don't have the basic horticultural skills required for harvesting.

According to the expert, a wage increase is inevitable, but this would also be reflected in the price of strawberries.


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