Some 40,000 candidates had come forward on Wednesday morning, 24 hours after the national appeal launched to compensate for the lack of seasonal workers in agriculture linked to the Covid-19 epidemic.
The Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume launched Tuesday morning an “appeal to the army in the shadow of men and women (who) are no longer active” because of the health crisis, inviting them to ” join the great army of French agriculture ”, in search of labor for harvesting fruit and vegetables or spring sowing. This call was widely relayed by the FNSEA, the first agricultural union in France.
“More than 40,000 people have registered” on the website of Operation Des bras pour ton assiette, “by offering their availability, with at least 24,000 very well-informed files behind” (profile, availability, geographic area), a declared Jérôme Volle, viticulturalist in Ardèche and president of the employment commission at the FNSEA.
A bug due to the “rush”
The 16,000 other potential candidates were victims, according to him, of the success of the operation: “There was a computer bug, at one point. In the afternoon, there was a rush which was complicated to manage, ”he explained. He specified that these people were going to be contacted to complete their file.
“The idea, with the Covid-19, is to find people nearby, to avoid travel. We try to favor employers from the same territory as those who have registered, “said the winegrower, indicating that there are candidates” throughout the territory “.
The needs were quantified by the main employers ‘and employees’ union in the agricultural sector, the FNSEA, at 200,000 people over three months: “We need 50,000 people in March, 80,000 in April and 80,000 in May”, had detailed FNSEA president Christiane Lambert Tuesday evening.
Traditionally, a third of seasonal workers come from Eastern European countries (Poland, Romania) or the Maghreb (Morocco)
“It allows you to stretch”
Among the candidates, “obviously, we have people from the rural world, we also have people who came to their second home or to friends, and also people in the peri-urban area,” said Jérôme Volle.
“We understand that some people want to go to the countryside or go to work in agriculture, because being confined, it allows you to stretch. We are reminded that we are in a professional, economic activity and that people who register must take this into consideration, ”warned the winegrower.
Endives in the north, fruits in the south
Main sources of demand: fruit and vegetable harvesting work, particularly in the South-East and South-West, but also “the north of France, with endives”, even if certain operators fear above all not to being able to sell their goods after the markets have closed.
Arms to harvest, but also to drive machines, to “thin” the fruit trees or to finish pruning the vine are in particular sought after, but using “all health barriers”: “The countryside is not only the big air is also areas where you can contract Covid-19 ”, underlined the president of the employment commission at the FNSEA.