The closing of borders as a result of the coronavirus epidemic can have serious implications for the horticultural industry. Strawberry producers are concerned about the availability of seasonal workers. According to Mirosław Maliszewski, president of the Union of Polish Fruit Growers, this is probably the biggest epidemic-related problem for Polish horticulture, apart from health issues.
The rules for the arrival of Ukrainians to work in Poland are still being clarified. We don't really know who and on what terms can enter, who can get a visa, etc. We have also sent a letter to the Minister of Family, Labor and Social Policy and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding this matter. We are waiting for an answer. "The European Union has recently introduced a 30-day period of closed external borders and it is not known whether there will be any exceptions for it. The situation is very dynamic and we must patiently wait for final decisions and interpretations of the regulations" says Mirosław Maliszewski.
Will the paralysis affect producers of e.g. strawberries who will start harvesting soon?
"This is probably the biggest problem for Polish horticulture in connection with the coronavirus epidemic. It seems that the producers of strawberries and other fruits, as well as some vegetable growers who are unable to mechanize the harvest, may suffer the biggest losses. The first fruits to be picked are strawberries and it may be the case that the disease will not have gone away by then and there will be a huge problem with the lack of pickers," he said.