Chile's National Agriculture Society, SNA, has warned that up to 30% of crops could remain without harvesting because of a lack of manpower. SNA head Cristian Allendes participated in a conference on the labor problem and incentives to attract people to work in the fields, which was presented under the title of How is the 2020/21 season coming along?.
We have some 20,000 to 30,000 less workers than we need in the farms, explained Allendes, which has become a greater problem because of the pandemic, but the challenge is not new and people do not want to work in agriculture tasks.
However, we need to keep generating the conditions and incentives so that Chileans and immigrants can see that working in farms is an excellent labor opportunity, with good future prospects added the SNA chief.
Asked to be more precise about the current situation, Allendes said that if what happened during winter is repeated with summer crops when we most need labor, October to April, we can expect some 20% to 30% of the crops to remain... Allendes then mentioned what happened with citrus and labor in some regions of Chile, including close to metropolitan Santiago: ...too few, too late
But again the main thing is to deliver good jobs, with good family incomes, the pandemic scared workers, but it is also true that we are the sector that suffered less contagions...
Apparently the lack of manpower is not limited to agriculture but also is impacting on the Chilean construction industry, because workers have migrated to mining, allegedly attracted by the good incomes in the mining towns.
Agriculture minister Maria Emilia Undurraga said that overall agriculture is facing lack of manpower but also overall there are less jobs and has called on the private sector, other government offices, think tanks and universities to see how to adapt to the new conditions and requirements
In effect, minister Undurraga recalled that sanitary protocols had to be updated and be ready for when the arrival of seasonal workers from neighboring Bolivia and Peru, as they do every year.