News World France eyes "shadow army" of fruit pickers as coronavirus bites

France eyes “shadow army” of fruit pickers as coronavirus bites

France appealed on Tuesday to workers laid off by the coronavirus crisis to help farmers pick fruit and vegetables that will otherwise be left to rot in the fields due to a shortage of seasonal workers.

Farmers forecast a nationwide shortage of around 200,000 farm labourers over the harvest period as tight border restrictions imposed to help curb the spread of coronavirus make it much harder to recruit from outside France.

This has raised the prospect of strawberries, asparagus and other crops rotting in the fields.

With hotel receptionists, restaurant waiters, hairdressers and many others deprived of work by an unprecedented lockdown, Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume issued a rallying cry to what he called France’s “shadow army”.

“I tell them: join the great army of French agriculture. Join those who will allow us to eat in a clean, healthy, sustainable way,” he told BFM TV.

President Emmanuel Macron has said France is at war against the pandemic, a metaphor used also by doctors and nurses as they brace for another big jump in the number of cases.

France has so far reported nearly 20,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and around 860 deaths.

The European Union last week closed the Schengen area’s external frontiers to third-country citizens for at least 30 days, while France, Spain, Germany, Poland and Austria, among others, have tightened national border controls.

Two thirds of seasonal workers in France are foreigners, farm unions say, and come from central and eastern European countries as well as Tunisia and Morocco.

Christine Lambert, head of France’s biggest farm union, FNSEA, said the farm sector needed 45,000 labourers in March and 80,000 in both April and May to help farmers, mainly to harvest fruit and vegetables.

“Due to the closure of the Schengen borders but also to movement restrictions in Europe, the Poles and the Romanians who used to come won’t anymore,” Lambert wrote on Twitter.

“If our call is not heard the production will remain in the fields and the entire fruit and vegetables sector will be damaged,” she added.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Repatriates make 7 out of 8 new coronavirus cases reported today

Repatriates made 7 out of eight new coronavirus cases reported today by the health ministry out of a total of 1953 tests, raising the number...

It’s merciless-Major blaze near the Panayia Evangelistria chapel in Xylofagou

  It's been a very difficult day for the fire and forestry departments as more than a dozen fires broke out all over Cyprus. A major...

Second fire at Diorios-Kapouti area in north-6th front today

  A second fire has broken out in the Diorios-Kapouti area in the Turkish-occupied north, a week after a massive blaze caused major destruction in...

Malta-Greece top low risk, Switzerland-Czech Republic higher risk for visitors to Cyprus

The Health Ministry announced the results of an epidemiological risk assessment, in an attempt to classify low and higher risk countries, when international airports...

Major Achna fire under control after burning farms, animals and tractors (update)

  A dramatic effort by a strong ground fire fighting force, a Russian Gamov helicopter and dozens of locals, brought a major blaze in the...

Taste

Fish meatballs

In a bowl, mix the finely chopped onion and parsley. Boil the fish, cut into small pieces and add to the bowl. Add salt...

“Frappe” Greek iced coffee

Frappé coffee (also Greek frappé or café frappé Greek: φραπές, frapés) is a Greek foam-covered iced coffee drink made from instant coffee (generally, spray-dried...

A guide of Summer fruits from Cyprus

Cyprus summer love! Cyprus summer fruits! So, what are the summer fruits which can be bought in Cyprus? Watermelon A Cypriot summer is not complete without...

Stuffed vine leaves with artichokes (Lenten)

Blanch the vine leaves in hot water. For the stuffing, finely chop the artichokes and the onions and sauté in olive oil until translucent....