Spain: Farmers in trouble due to the state of alarm
The Spanish primary sector continues working every day to keep supermarkets supplied. Nevertheless, the state of alarm’s constrains are causing major difficulties in their daily lives and leading to significant economic loses.
Day laborers are not arriving from Morocco
In Huelva, where the strawberry harvest continues, there are not enough workers. Seasonal workers who arrive every year from Morocco have not been able to enter Spain due to the closure of Spanish borders for the transit of people although not of goods.
Movements within the country are affecting farmers as well. The limitation in the number of occupants in all vehicles alters the work routine, causing delays and higher costs. The government has just rectified this and now allows two people per vehicle in the agriculture and transportation sectors.
Supermarkets are giving away free flowers
One of the sectors most affected by the pandemic is that of flowers and ornamental plants. Growers had already made their plantations in anticipation of the months of maximum sales in Spain, such as Father’s Day, Easter, First Communions or Mother’s Day.
Now, the closure of open-air markets and flower shops means that, according to a sector representative, around 50-60% of the production is lost. “Once they’ve been cut, we’ve taken them to the supermarkets, to given them away to shoppers, so that at least someone can have some joy in such sad times”, a grower from Extremadura says.
Restaurants do not need lamb
The closure of restaurants and hotels collapses sheep farms in Castilla y Léon, a farmer reports. “Lamb –unlike chicken which is in high demand by supermarkets- is no longer consumed at home as it once was; nowadays it is a typical out-of-home food ”. For this reason, “the suckling lambs are crowed together on farms across the region generating a collapse that is seriously worrying”. In addition, in a few weeks, the spring lamb season arrives, the period with the highest production throughout the year.
Farmers are proposing two solutions to this situation, although they are so costly that they are asking for help from the public administrations. One would be the meat storage, freezing it until the crisis is over. However, this would mean a loss of value, since the product could no longer be sold as fresh, not forgetting the tied-up capital too. The second would be fattening the suckling lambs for export to Muslim countries, very interested in this type of animals, a solution that also involves additional costs.
“We struggle to find spare parts”
Winegrowers, who are planting vineyards at this time, also find it difficult to receive the material they need. A grower from Castilla-La Mancha explains that he receives the plant via parcel delivery companies and these days it takes them longer than usual to make the delivery.
He explains that his daily work and that of his farm workers is slowed down for several reasons. “We have a hard time in finding material because the hardware shops are closed as a consequence of the state of alarm. Jut today, another farmer called me to see if I could lend him irrigation hoses for his melon plantations because he can’t find a place to buy them”. The same person shared his fears of not finding enough temporary workers for the melon campaign, to begin in a month’s time and for which he usually hires crews of up to 25 Moroccan laborers. “I only hope that the people in the area who ae becoming unemployed because of the coronavirus may want to come and work on my farm”.