In southern Russia, the mass harvesting of vegetables and potatoes will begin in mid-July. But there is no one especially to fight for the harvest, there are no labor migrants in the fields. According to press reports, the Ministry of Agriculture is hastily negotiating with Russian Railways on charter rail transportation of seasonal workers from the Central Asian republics.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional entry of migrants into Russia was banned last March. It strongly backfired on agricultural performance. For example, in autumn it was not possible to harvest potatoes from the fields in full, prices for them have soared by as much as 65% since the beginning of the year.
In March this year, the government lifted restrictions on the entry of foreigners. But on condition that they are allowed to be taken only by those agricultural producers who have a payroll of at least 250 employees and a turnover of more than 2.5 billion rubles per year.
Even then, “MK” wrote that the requirements for farmers are unfulfillable, such farms in Russia can be counted on one hand. Due to the uncertainty with seasonal workers, many farming collectives have decided to skip the current planting campaign altogether. And some producers have significantly reduced the acreage so as not to leave vegetables in the field before winter.
In May, these stringent requirements for farmers were lifted, but the train left. However, as we can see, not far. Domestic officials have just now realized that the cost of train tickets is 6-7 times lower than air tickets. And, in order to activate the influx of migrants, the Ministry of Agriculture is resolving the issue of charter transportation with railway workers.
Will it be too late?
Officially, the villagers need about 40 thousand labor migrants for the harvesting campaign. But the agrarians themselves do not believe in this figure either.
Apparently, the main focus is on attracting students to harvesting. By the way, according to the chief of staff of the Potato Union of Russia Tatyana Gubina, student teams are already being formed in the regions, and some have even left for the fields.
“But this is an unskilled labor force even in picking berries,” says Tatyana Dmitrievna. – And when harvesting potatoes, you need to know how to sort the tubers, which caliber to the right, which to the left … Unlike our seasonal workers, students are not a way out of the situation. Somehow, migrants appear on the farms, but there are few of them. But so that they arrive according to the developed algorithm, in an organized manner – not a single person yet.
In the Fruit and Vegetable Union, we were informed that much more cabbage, carrots, zucchini and others have been sown this year than last year. And if force majeure does not happen with the weather, the harvest should be good.
– Certain difficulties with migrants, of course, there are, – agrees the director of the Fruit and Vegetable Union Mikhail Glushkov. – In the Astrakhan, Volgograd regions, the harvesting campaign of open field vegetables is already beginning.
– Will our agricultural producers be able to pay migrants for work 2,000 rubles a day, as they demand? – I ask him.
– This is not the biggest rate yet, – Mikhail Vladimirovich answers. – Last year, when there was a tough lockdown in the country, vegetable farms paid those who stayed in Russia 5,000 rubles a day. We hope that this year the prices will be reduced.
But anyway it turns out that the harvest, which is still in the fields, will be expensive. According to the agrarians, although they draw up collective applications for seasonal workers, they will not be able to enter the battle for the harvest from the ship to the ball (in the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, in the Rostov Region, where they also started harvesting). Upon arrival in Russia, the employer must “create the necessary conditions for them to undergo a two-week quarantine.” That is, to rent a boarding house, a rest house or some kind of medical institution for this time, where arrivals will be tested for covid, will be put under medical supervision. These services are also not free
All costs and expenses will ultimately weigh heavily on the cost of production. And if we are accustomed to the seasonal decline in prices for potatoes and vegetables, then this autumn will be an exception, but rather unpleasant. According to experts, from the beginning of mass deliveries of the crop, prices in stores and markets will be 20 percent higher than last year. And then, probably, according to the worked out scheme – ascending and non-stop.
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