Seasonal agricultural workers from Morocco have been flown to Italy to harvest.
COVID-19 lockdown left them out of jobs, while farmers fear their crops would go waste. In late May, 248 Moroccan workers were flown by chartered planes and paid for by farmer groups.
Elkasmi Tarik is a seasonal worker from Morocco. He said they were happy about their value to the farmers.
“We’re happy that we are so important. If we were not important to them, they wouldn’t have brought us back here, they wouldn’t have paid for the plane ticket – I mean, those are costly. They have created all the conditions so that we may come here and work in peace. We stayed at home for 14 days, and they would call us continuously to see how we were doing, until we took bloods tests that had good results and we went back to work”, Tarik said.
Italy relies on nearly 350,000 foreign agriculture workers with seasonal contracts, according to the Farmer’s Association, Confagricoltura.
“My company paid about 4500 Euro through the Farmer’s Association (Confagricoltura), that oversaw the procedures, to bring back our workers from Morocco lawfully, so that they could harvest our product. They are the only ones who can do this job, they are specialized workers who were trained over the years to carry-out this kind of job”, said Modesto Angelucci, Owner of Ortomedia Farm.
Foreign seasonal workers typically reside in Italy from March to November. They were allowed to work after testing negative for the virus.
Italy plans to reopen its borders to non-EU visitors and workers on Monday June 15.