Agricultural Harvest: French Farmers Concerned about the Absence of Moroccan Seasonal Workers

Thousands of foreign seasonal workers, including Moroccans, are usually called upon to participate in the harvesting of fruit and vegetables on French farms during these periods. However, thousands of foreign seasonal workers, including Moroccans, are unavailable in France. This was due to the closure of the borders following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which prevents them from travelling to France. Big concern.

There will be at least 1,200 seasonal workers who will not be able to go to Tarn-et-Garonne this season for the apple harvest. The situation is sad for French farmers who have been using this cheap foreign labor for years. Especially from Morocco, our southern neighbor. “We have 1,200 seasonal workers confined and stranded in Morocco. The country has banned travel to and from eight of its cities, including Casablanca, from where these seasonal workers used to come to us.

They are in good standing, but it is Morocco that does not let them out. Here, the prefecture has given the green light,” explains Yvon Sarraute, head of arboriculturists at the Tarn-et-Garonne Chamber of Agriculture, reports a French media outlet. The situation is already tense, with enormous fears about the harvest. “Without them, we can’t get out of the harvest. At the peak of the harvest, two-thirds of the workers are foreigners,” says a producer quoted by the French media. The risk of not being able to harvest as usual is now being seen, with all the impact that will have on the entire value chain. Eventually, there will be a mechanical price increase.

Already, since May, some farmers had sounded the alarm about the risks to their crops if the borders remained closed, preventing seasonal workers from coming to France. Moreover, even if community seasonal workers (Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Portuguese) can still move around, it is not certain that this handful of people is enough to make up for the lack of seasonal workers from other regions, especially Moroccans. “I’m missing about 20 workers who were supposed to arrive from Morocco at the beginning of April,” says the farmer, reported by another French online medium. For the time being, French farmers are “managing”, waiting for a possible reopening of the Moroccan borders.

In the profession, some are calling for a relaxation of the rules of movement for seasonal workers in order to save harvests. “People have to be able to come and work on our farms, or else it will be catastrophic,” they ask.

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