Available labor has been a determining factor in the viability and success of the berry and citrus fruit campaigns in the province of Huelva for quite some time now. When both campaigns are not truncated by weather issues or unforeseen phenomena, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of labor ends up conditioning the end of the campaign, even when there still is fruit to collect.
According to UPA Huelva, this situation is already becoming a reality at this point in the campaign. The lack of labor is already a reality and strawberry plots are being abandoned amidst the production because there is no staff to collect them.
It's worth noting that the plants are at full capacity. At a time influenced by temperatures and hours of light, the collection cycle is two days, which forces this interval so that the product is collected in good conditions. Thus, if there is a lack of labor, the plots are abandoned to be able to carry out the two-day collecting cycle.
There is a lack of labor because of the competition of other activities that are simultaneous with the agricultural campaign of Huelva, such as tourism and hospitality, and because a lot of the labor moved to other agricultural campaigns that started earlier. This is the case of campaigns in northern Spain, Italy, and Germany, which are also closer to the places of origin of some workers, as is the case of Bulgarian and Romanian workers.
UPA Huelva stressed that exploiting the campaign to its maximum duration, especially a campaign that has been characterized by high production costs and a certain vegetative delay of the strawberry plants due to the low temperatures of December and January, was essential so that farmers could recover their investments. However, everything indicates that the lack of manpower will shorten the campaign, especially in the case of the strawberry.
UPA Huelva emphasized that, as long as no solutions are found to the lack of manpower in the province of Huelva or in the national territory, the GECCO procedure with Morocco and the expansion of the number of workers from Ecuador and Honduras -who came to this campaign as a pilot experience- are essential to be able to supply personnel to the province's agricultural companies.
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