Alarm in Europe’s garden | TIME ONLINE

Alarm in Europe's garden | TIME ONLINE


José Vicente has to face the
Roaring engine noise from his tractor. It’s Saturday morning, the farmer
from Orihuela in the province of Alicante chugs through its citrus plantation.
Actually, he says on the phone, his 15 harvest workers should now have lemons
Pick the Verna variety from the trees. But no one was to be seen except him, his
130 hectares of finca are deserted. The Civil Guard had his
Employees not let through early in the morning and with a tight “Today
is not being worked “sent home. The global corona crisis is
long since Spain Farmers arrived.

With 33,089 infected and 2,182
Deaths is the country’s second largest hotspot in the EU, the caseload
rise faster than in Italy. To stem the epidemic, Spain imposed a strict curfew more than a week ago. Who has to work is
actually exempted from it. But how do you check this in individual cases? “Everyone
Duty police officer interprets the rules at his discretion, “says
Vicente upset. “If such situations repeat, we have one
Problem. “He supplies German supermarket chains with his organic fruits
how Lidl and Aldi. Their demand has increased rapidly in the past few days. If Vicente’s harvest helpers cannot come to work, the shelves will eventually remain empty.

Southern Spain is considered Europe’s fruit
and vegetable garden. Almost all citrus, strawberries and much of the
Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers that are currently on the German counters,
come from the regions of Alicante and Huelva. Last year alone
Land exported 13.5 million tons of fruit and vegetables, mostly to
Germany. They were harvested and picked by armies of
Seasonal workers, whose wages are often below the legal minimum. It is
an industry in which a lot happens on demand, a lot is regulated informally
and the price pressure is enormous. This becomes a problem in times of crisis.

In case of doubt, the controlling policeman decides

This can be seen, for example, in
Transport. Many harvest workers do not have a license or their own car,
Buses run irregularly in the country and often miles from
Fields, greenhouses or warehouses removed. To get to work
Usually several harvest workers share a car. Sometimes also collects
the farmer with the pickup truck the employees. But since in
Spain’s alarm status may only be one person at a time
Small cars sit, violations are punished with fines between 300 and 1,000 euros. Exceptions only apply to people with reduced mobility
Mobility, for family members or in “justified exceptions”. If she
If the reason is valid, the controlling policeman decides in case of doubt.
After his experiences with the police ban, José Vicente decided to take the
Stop harvesting for a few days. Because a lot of the order
is already in boxes with his cooperative, he can do it this time
Afford.

The agricultural association
Coexphal, an association of 83 fruit and vegetable producers from Almería, knows
the complaints about the new editions. The regulations are a serious problem
says managing director Luis Miguel Fernández Sierra. He answers the questions
via email, from his regular office and is not afraid of dramatic
Words: “There is a worrying rise in absenteeism,” he writes. “The
Situation gets worse every hour and every day. “Rumors of total
The curfew and stories of police inspections made the rounds. The
would have used many to avoid appearing at work. To the
The government should allow cars not to endanger crops
Trips to work are at least half of the number of registered passengers
transport, of course “taking the preventive and
Safety measures”.

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