Spain: Shortage of labourers to harvest strawberries in Avila

Representatives of the main institutions of Avila and two Huelva-based cooperatives are unhappy about the lack of seasonal labourers to harvest strawberries, which is forcing them to resort to foreign workers, mainly Romanians.

This situation has been reported by the managers of the cooperatives "Cuna de Platero" and "Grufesa", who employ about one thousand workers in ​​northern Avila to produce seedlings for Huelva and, this year, for the first time and experimentally, fruit for the entire year.

In this sense, the director of "Cuna de Platero", Juan Báñez, stated that the main obstacle to continue growing in the area, after three decades, is the lack of labourers when the strawberry season is in full swing.

For this reason, a good part of the 500 people hired this year, since another 50 have permanent contracts for about eight months, are people of Romanian nationality, due to "the lack of local labour during production peaks."

"It's hard to find people," said Báñez, who pointed out that this is especially the case for the period from March to October, since people are needed not only for the harvesting, but also for the planting.

Both Báñez and the manager of "Grufesa", Carlos Cumbreras, agree that this problem exists, and that this later has an impact on the quality of the product, since "the strawberry harvest cannot be mechanised."

These statements were made during the visit to these two cooperatives of the Government's deputy delegate, María Ángeles Ortega, the territorial delegate of the Regional Government in Avila, José Francisco Hernández, and the president of the Provincial Council, Jesús Manuel Sánchez Cabrera.

The latter mentioned how paradoxical it is that unemployment has actually increased by 297 people in the province during the month of September.

According to data provided by José Francisco Hernández, 600 hectares have been planted with strawberries in the province of Avila this year. We are talking about 500,000 plants per hectare in fourteen nurseries that employ more than 2,500 seasonal workers and a hundred permanent workers.

Of the total acreage, about ten are being used this year to test the fruit's production directly in greenhouses.

Source: EFE

Publication date: 10/6/2017

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