In some areas, producers have changed their stone fruits production for other productions that can be easily mechanized
The lack of manpower is one of the many challenges that fruit growing faces each season, so much so that producers consider it is one of the main problems in the sector.
In Andalusia, the early peach and nectarine campaign has highlighted the lack of manpower affecting the Vega del Guadalquivir. It's a problem that is aggravated when several campaigns coincide, stated Asociafruit–Fepex. According to Asociafruit, the lack of people to work in the fields and in the warehouses means that the immediate future necessarily involves starting to manage contingents of labor from other countries.
In Aragon, the general secretary of Fedefruta, Agustin Sanchez Castro, agrees that, in general terms, the need for labor is one of Spain's fruit-growing sector's most serious problems. In his opinion, this factor has already led producers in some areas of the country to change their stone fruit productions for other products that can be more easily mechanized, such as the intensive irrigated almond.
Sanchez Castro, who has already experienced more than 22 agrarian campaigns, said the stone fruit sector had experienced a lack of personnel in the 90s and since 2017. There was a very serious incident in 2019 when there was a great harvest, low prices, and many peaches remained in the trees uncollected, he added.
According to the director-general of Afrucat (Catalonia), Manel Simon, having the necessary manpower now goes through traditional formulas such as hiring crews in their countries of origin, especially Morocco, Romania, Ecuador, or Chile. In addition, he said, there are other deeper issues that affect the availability of personnel. Working in the countryside is unattractive for many unemployed even though it's an outdoor job and picking fruit isn't hard, many unemployed say it does not fall within their parameters.