Argentina: Extraberries expects 2,500 ton blueberries harvest

The Extraberries SA company, which is located in the town of Yatasto, in the department of Metan, has high expectations for this season. According to estimates, the company will harvest nearly 2,500 tons of blueberries in the plantations they have in the southern province of Salta.

In October last year a hailstorm that hit the area wiped out about a thousand tons of fruit that the company was going to harvest from different batches, so the activities were terminated abruptly. The losses were heavy.

Currently, the largest blueberry production in Argentina and South America lies in Yatasto. The company has the latest technology in its modern packing plant.
"We have very good expectations this season, after the bad year we had in 2014 due to the hail and the frost we had in 2013. We trust this is going to be a good harvest and are working hard on it," said Agustin Cornejo, manager of Extraberries SA.
Cornejo said the fields were full of fruit, but that one had to keep in mind that they didn't all mature at the same time, that they did it gradually. 

"This year the weather is very cool and we are waiting for the weather to increase for the crops to be ready so we can harvest the amount we need to export to the United States and Europe," he said.

Cornejo added that most of the people who were currently working in packaging, in the field, and in other areas of the company were from San José de Metán and other provincial towns in the south.

"Besides being an agricultural company, we have a great social responsibility. We have received criticism, so we invite people to come and see what we do with great effort and with a team composed mainly of locals," he said.

Labor shortage
Moreover, Jose Maria Royo, who serves as an advisor to the firm, stated that the company was unable to hire all of the workers needed to harvest the 197 hectares owned by the company in the provincial south.

"The company needs 3,000 people. 2,500 harvesters, 300 people for the packaging sector, and 200 for general tasks," Royo said.

Despite an intensive information campaign in the media and other strategies, such as outdoor advertising, he said, we have failed to get enough staff in the southern province of Salta.

"We registered a total of 2,942 people, 1,515 from San José de Metan, 981 people from Rosario de la Frontera, 218 from El Galpon, 117 from Rio Piedras, 21 from Lumbreras and 90 from General Gemes. However, 545 of them did not show up to the medical review, and, for example, another 100 people from San José de Metán did not withdraw their credentials to enter the company," Royo stated.

Jose Maria Royo noted that there were currently 1,684 harvesters working the fields and that the company needed 816 more to meet their needs, so they had to rely on contractors that bring people from other provinces and foreign countries, such as Bolivia.


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