Huelva’s Migrant Workers Labor Shortage
Huelva, Spain- The Covid-19 lockdowns hurt the agricultural economy of Spain by preventing Huelva’s and Andaluisa’s seasonal migrant workers from admittance to the country.
Europe produces 95-97% of all Strawberries with 95% produced in Huelva Spain. While the unemployment is approximately 27.16% in Huelva, migrant workers complete the majority of the harvesting. Approximately 25,000 workers come each year from Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland to work as temporary laborers on Huelva farms. 60% of the migrant laborers come from Morocco and they make about 35.62 USD a day for a total of 40 hours of work a week. The large amount of migrant laborers coming to Huelva from Morocco comes from a bilateral agreement signed between the Spanish Crown and the Moroccan Government that allows between 11,000-20,000 migrant workers to legally come to Huelva on temporary work visas.
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Spanish Crown and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez prevented the majority of migrant laborers from entering Spain. The Spanish Crown ultimately only allowed 7,200 migrant workers into the country during the Pandemic leaving the Strawberry industry with both a labor shortage and a migrant crisis. Freshuelva asked the Spanish Crown to make it possible to hire seasonal workers from other EU and Non-EU countries to diversify their labor force to prevent work shortages from arising due to an overdependence on Moroccan Labor.
Restrictions prevent the strawberry industry from hiring outside of these trade agreements. In addition to this, the Andalusian government provides picking jobs in the region to combat the rising unemployment. However, less than 1,000 local individuals applied for the 11,000 picking jobs. Estimated Industry losses from the labor shortage and the Covid-19 restrictions are about 438 million USD. This will mark a major economic loss for the agricultural industry in Spain if the Spain Crown and the Andalusian government cannot find enough workers to harvest the fields.