The stone fruit campaign will start soon in the Vega del Guadalquivir and in the province of Huelva with the harvest of the first peaches, nectarines, Paraguayo peaches and plums, whose total production is estimated to exceed 50 million kilos. According to Asociafruit, the harvest will last until early September (mostly for plums), although the bulk of the early Andalusian campaign will come in May.
However, uncertainty about whether there will be enough laborers is marking the start of the campaign. This problem, which is affecting numerous agrarian sectors, is especially severe in Andalusia, where big campaigns like the stone fruit, citrus, potato and berry ones overlap.
"We need to take into account the circumstances derived from the coronavirus crisis, which have further complicated the situation," said a representative of Asociafruit. The fear of contagion and the difficulties to travel, as well as the closure of the border with Morocco, "are factors that could result in the lack of more than 50% of the necessary labor force at the peak of the campaign in the province of Huelva," they say.
In Seville, the shortage of workers to harvest stone fruit is estimated at 35%. This means that, according to Asociafruit data, in the first half of May, the sector may need more than 1,000 workers in the area, and in the second half, this figure will increase to 1,500, and that's just for stone fruit.
In these circumstances, the national producer sector, represented by Asociafruit in Andalusia, has sent a letter to the Spanish Minister of Agriculture requesting the adoption of urgent measures to try to solve this situation. The main requests involve the regularization of illegal residents, facilitating the transit of personnel to work in different areas of Spain and improving the mobility of the workers, giving them more options for personal transport.