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Farmers are concerned: fruit go off on fields because there are too few harvesters. Where are the many seasonal forces going? And who could do the work instead?

Harvest Helper: Who saves the strawberries?

Farmers are concerned: fruit go off on fields because there are too few harvesters. Where are the many seasonal forces going? And who could do the work instead?

Harvest Helper: Who saves the strawberries?
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  • Page 1 — who saves strawberries?
  • Page 2 — exemplary viticulture?
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    Usually wear determines when fruits and vegetables come from field. This year it is man. Or rar, those people who are not re. More and more farmers are complaining that y are missing seasonal workers and that y are spoiling asparagus and strawberries in fields because y cannot be harvested quickly enough. "In spring we still thought that everything would be similar to last year. But now we know: it is going to be serious, "says Burkhard Möller, chief executive officer of Agricultural Employers ' association GLFA. "Something must happen."

    The misery is not yet expressed in figures, but re are many, many farmers who reported to association: "We do not find any harvesters." The Federal Statistical Office raises annually how many seasonal forces come to Germany every year to sting asparagus, pick berries or harvest potatoes. But it does not publish data until end of year. As a result, official number of seasonal forces has been taking off since 2010, from just under 330,000 to last 286,000. "But that was more of a creeping process," Möller says. One reason for this was also increasing mechanisation. It took less people.

    But now farmers are asking how y will be able to withstand season with so few employees. Farmers with asparagus or strawberry fields in particular have a problem. 160,000 to 180,000 harvest helpers hired m every year. This year, however, according to a survey by association South German Asparagus and strawberry Growers (VSSE), almost two-thirds of farms indicated that availability of seasonal forces had "decreased", one in five operation even said re was "significantly less" Helper.

    The reasons: Money, security, working conditions

    "There are a lot of ordinary pickers, but workers are missing us," says Simon Schumacher of association VSSE, " good people who can also lead a squad and who so far have come for many years in a row." Where you stayed? "Many have found work on parcel delivery services or on construction", says Schumacher from member companies. "The good workers are not only mobile in ir legs, but also in ir heads." On one, parcel services are paying better, namely two to three euros more per hour compared to 8.84 euro minimum wage on field. On or, jobs in logistics or construction industry mean permanent employment – and not just three months of income a year, when Strawberry is time.

    A number of seasonal helpers from Poland, Romania or Bulgaria were not even on duty this season, although y had previously helped in certain courts for years and often signed contracts in winter. Instead, y would have found work in ir homeland, where economy is flourishing, says Schumacher: "They earn a little less, but y can stay with ir families." Many workers thus "no longer see need" to leave ir country for several weeks, believes managing director Hans Lehar of fruit and vegetable Absatzgenossenschaft Baden. "It is certainly also a consequence of seasonal work that is going uphill in Eastern Europe," says Schumacher from cultivation association VSSE, "Now people at home can build up something."

    Eastern Search Expanded

    Eastern Europe's economy is growing so enormously that even in many places labour force is scarce, so chambers of Commerce are warning in a number of countries. Bulgaria's statistical offices recently reported a record low in unemployment at around six percent. Romania is around 4.6 percent, Hungary is at 3.7, in Czech Republic re is almost full employment. Companies in se countries are already complaining that y no longer find employees because labour market is empty, which is why y are already recruiting each or's employees.

    If Eastern European workers still get involved in a job in harvest, y often go past Germany. In Belgium or Nerlands, agriculture is also an important sector – but minimum wage is higher, at around 9.50 to 9.70 euros. Or pickers go to Italy, says association spokesman Schumacher, in viticulture or fruit-growing, "There you work standing" and does not have to bend over permanently or on knees on field seals. Especially this makes asparagus and strawberry harvest in this country even more unattractive.

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