Spain: Over 18,000 Moroccan seasonal workers will harvest Huelva's strawberries

More than 18,000 Moroccan seasonal workers will travel in the coming weeks to the province of Huelva (south west Spain) to participate in the strawberry campaign, in one of the largest operations ever between the two countries.

A person in charge of the operation on the Spanish side told Efe that the exact number of temporary workers that will be hired for the first time this season is 10,914, to which another 7,137 already hired in previous years, and who are coming back, must be added.

The agreement, sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs, was signed by the main organizations of strawberry producers in Huelva and the Moroccan national employment agency (ANAPEC), which together are organising all the recruitment tasks in five locations in Morocco this week.

All candidates are required to be women, married and with children in their charge, so as to ensure their return to the country once the season is over, and they are also asked not to be older than 45, so they can handle the high physical demands of strawberry harvesting.

The pickers will start making the trip by boat from the port of Tangier on 1 February. There will be a first stage with those who have already participated in previous seasons, and a second stage for new workers starting on 20 March.

All the workers selected will be granted a temporary five month visa; enough to cover the whole strawberry season, as well as that of other berries (raspberries and blueberries).

The last seasonal worker recruitment operation took place in 2008, and since then the strawberry workers had done nothing but come back each campaign, so this year's operation is actually exceptional.

The Moroccan government has used this operation to create employment opportunities in depressed areas, mainly in the city of Uxda (far north-east of Morocco).

Source: EFE

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