The National Association of Garlic Producers and Marketers of Spain (ANPCA) has expressed its deep concern about the lack of laborers for the upcoming garlic harvest in Spain, Europe's main producer.
The autonomous region of Andalusia, where the campaign is expected to start in early May, is asking for measures to ensure that the high demand for labor is met, as some 4,500 workers will be needed in the first phase in order for the new garlic to reach the shelves of Spanish and European supermarkets.
The issue is that harvesting a single hectare of garlic requires about 50 laborers and the average farm has about 24 hectares.
The lack of time to plan the training and the application of labor protection measures for new workers coming from other sectors is another aspect to consider. The investment in training courses has been considerable and these are difficult to bring to fruition in such a short space of time.
The most important aspect to take into account is the fact that working in agriculture is not appealing to the unemployed due to the hard working condition and sacrifice that this job requires in the summer. In previous labor crises, with a very significant number of unemployed people in Spain, harvesting tasks already had to be carried out with specialized workers due to the lack of available labor. If we add the proximity criterion included in article 2.2 of the RDL of April 7 to the current situation, the chances of finding enough workers to carry out agricultural tasks are next to none.
For all these reasons, the National Association of Producers and Marketers of Garlic is once again asking the Government to follow the example of other European countries, like Germany and France, and apply the European directive on the free mobility of critical workers, facilitating their free movement, and to urgently articulate the requirements to be met to guarantee their availability for this upcoming harvesting campaign. If the measures to be adopted are similar to those in Germany, with a 15-day quarantine for those workers posted to workplaces in other areas, we are close to the deadline, given that the harvesting campaign is starting in early May.
The impossibility of hiring enough laborers will cause serious damage to this sector and the consumer, as the high Spanish and European demand won't be met. This situation is also starting to affect other crops, such as asparagus, oranges or onions, for which the harvest is not being carried out as usual due to lack of labor. This is making it necessary to resort to imports, which entails an increase in the retail price. Given that Spain is the largest garlic producer in Europe and the only supplier with a full guarantee of phytosanitary quality, the lack of labor could lead to market shortages and the inability of consumers to purchase a basic product in the Mediterranean diet; a source of numerous health benefits and considered a natural antibiotic.