Two Spanish fruit companies based in Morocco, specialized in the production of berries, have registered coronavirus outbreaks among their employees. In a strawberry and red fruit conditioning plant of the Sevillian company Frigodar, located in the town of Lalla Mimouna, at least 455 Moroccan workers, most of them women, have tested positive for coronavirus after a massive test carried out in their factories. A representative of local authorities in the region reported that this figure is still provisional and is the result of a test carried out on more than 4,000 of its workers last Wednesday.
Likewise, more than 100 infections have been recorded so far at Navarre's Natberry plant in Larache.
Last Monday, the Moroccan Federation of the League of Women's Rights (FLDM) warned in a letter sent to the Moroccan authorities that some strawberry production companies in the town of Lalla Mimouna were not enforcing preventive measures to protect their employees from COVID-19.
As in other agricultural sectors, workers in the red fruit sector (almost all women) traditionally have very precarious working conditions in terms of wages, social coverage or means of transportation.
Interfresa dissociates itself from the outbreaks
Huelva's interprofessional organization for strawberry producers, Interfresa, has said that the province of Huelva and Huelva's producers have nothing to do with the COVID-19 outbreak in the two Spanish companies established in Morocco. As indicated by the interprofessional, the fact that Huelva is the leader in the cultivation of red fruits at both Spanish and European level (it accounts for 97% of the national strawberry production) has brought attention to the province, which is why they believed it advisable to make it clear that the workers who have been in Huelva during the local red fruit campaign are free of the virus. This included the Moroccan seasonal workers hired at origin, and who are waiting to return to their homes.
The entity said that "during the agricultural season in the growing area of Huelva, no Moroccan worker has been affected by COVID-19 thanks to the efforts made by all the companies in the province, which have established very strict protocols to preserve the health and safety of their workers."