The coronavirus pandemic is strongly conditioning the development of Argentina's blueberry season. The Association of Blueberry Producers of Argentina's Mesopotamia (APAMA) developed, with the endorsement of the Stamboulian Center, which specializes in infectious disease, a special protocol for field and packaging tasks to protect its workers against possible infections. Alejandro Pannunzio, the president of APAMA, said the protocol established respiratory protection measures, as well as measures to transport the personnel, disinfect the transport units, and distribute the personnel in the fields.
The lack of human resources has been another challenge derived from the health crisis since it affected the movements of seasonal workers. It is common for people from the northern provinces to traveling throughout the country harvesting the seasonal fruits accordingly. In 2020, that staff could not make their normal journey and their positions had to be filled by local labor. “Every year we have workers from other provinces who come to the city to carry out blueberry harvesting and packing tasks; mainly from the north of Argentina, La Rioja, and Santiago del Estero. This year, given the current health situation, we couldn't receive them,” said the president of APAMA.
In addition, many harvesters collected the Emergency Family Income (IFE). "Many workers wrote to us telling us they had to resign and wouldn't come to work this season because, if they did, they would automatically lose the IFE financial aid," Pannunzio said.
Businessmen are concerned about the peso's drop in value and the consequences it could have. “The official dollar costs almost half of what the parallel dollar costs. The macroeconomic situation for producers who plant and expect to produce within 10 years is quite the opposite of what we wish it was,” said the businessman.
Fortunately, Pannunzio said, this year's weather conditions are good for the cultivation of blueberries.
In addition, Aerolineas Argentinas announced the programming of more than 65 special flights for October, covering international and regional routes. There will be 4 weekly flights to Miami from the Ezeiza airport that will transport blueberries produced in the provinces of Salta, Tucuman, Entre Rios, and Buenos Aires.