On April 7, the Spanish Government approved a royal decree to allow unemployed people and illegal immigrants to work as seasonal workers for the next few months, as confirmed by sources from the Ministry of Agriculture, given the critical lack of labor in the face of the imminent fruit and vegetable campaigns in Spain.
As pointed out last week by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, in order to guarantee the production in Spain, a total of between 100,000 and 150,000 temporary workers will be needed to harvest the crops, but currently only 60% of the necessary workforce is available.
The agrarian organizations have been warning about this problem for weeks, since the closing of borders has prevented the arrival of thousands of foreigners who come to Spain every year to work temporarily as day laborers. In the Ebro valley area alone, about 60,000 seasonal workers are needed. For this reason, one of the solutions considered by the Ministry is to allow unemployed people and illegal immigrants to work in the field, as long as they live in places close to the workplace.
"A possible solution would be the hiring of workers from the local environment, people who are currently unemployed and who could collaborate in these tasks," said sources from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The regions of Aragon, Catalonia, Murcia and Extremadura are the main producers of stone fruit (cherries, nectarines, peaches, apricots or Paraguayo peaches). Last year, for example, around 30,000 people were hired for the campaign in Aragon, and about 85% of those were of foreign origin.
Cooperativas Agro-Alimentarias of Spain has said that about 100,000 workers will be needed in the coming weeks ahead of the next agricultural campaigns.
But this problem, like that of low prices, does not exclusively affect Spain, but the rest of the EU's partners. For example, in countries like Italy, France and Germany, between 200,000 and 300,000 workers are needed. For this reason, the German Government recently decided to authorize the entry into the country of a limited quota of EU temporary workers, despite the closure of the borders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. To be precise, they agreed to allow the entry of a monthly quota of up to 40,000 seasonal workers both this month and the next.