In Moldova, producers of berries plan to attract foreign labor to harvest


In Moldova, producers of berries plan to attract foreign labor to harvest

03/02/2020

The problem of labor shortages is becoming one of the key in the fruit-growing sector of Moldova

On the sidelines of the National Conference of Moldovan Berry Producers, held last week, heads of specialized agricultural enterprises discussed the possibility of hiring seasonal foreign workers this year, mainly from Central Asian countries, for harvesting. The main motive is the fears of managers of berry farms that under adverse weather conditions during the harvesting campaign in 2020, last year’s situation may be repeated. In June 2019, due to rainfall and shortages of workers, the harvesting period in many berry farms of the country was delayed. As a result, as some large agricultural producers claim, “hundreds of tons of overripe and spoiled garden strawberries (strawberries) remained in the fields.”

The problem of labor shortages is becoming one of the key in the fruit-growing sector of Moldova. As a result, the daily wage of seasonal workers for the last three agricultural seasons has increased one and a half to two times: from 100-150 lei to 200-300 lei – $ 11.5-17.2 (in superintensive apple orchards and vineyards like Pergola). Taking into account this trend, experts from international training projects recommended, in particular, producers of table grapes and cherries, when drawing up business plans for new plantations, to lay the wages of seasonal workers at a level of at least 500 lei per day ($ 29).

In such realities, the head of one of the largest horticultural enterprises of the Republic of Moldova at a seminar in the fall of 2019 in the presence of representatives of the government and donor organizations announced plans to continue to attract seasonal labor from Central Asian countries. This statement then provoked a vivid and generally negative reaction from the public.

See also: Opinion: mechanical harvesting of honeysuckle will help solve the problem of labor shortages

Meanwhile, in the berry sector of the Republic of Moldova, the situation with the workforce is even worse. Seeking to harvest apples in a timely manner in order to properly lay premium-quality products for long-term storage in refrigerators, gardeners often agree to an increase in pay for day workers – in the hope of higher prices for high-quality goods in winter and spring. Berry producers sell their products shortly after harvesting, their costs, including those for hired workers, are more closely linked to the price situation during the harvesting season. And last year, for example, prices for strawberries for export were low because of its problematic quality, for blackberries because of lower demand.

It is also worth noting that the production of berries in Moldova is developing at a relatively fast pace: over the past five years, the area of ​​berry plantations in the country has increased almost four times – up to 4.1 thousand hectares last year. According to a preliminary estimate of the Ministry of Agriculture, in 2019, the production of berries in the Republic of Moldova amounted to 15.5 thousand tons (a year earlier – about 11 thousand tons). The potential of the Moldovan labor market does not cope with such dynamics of production.

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