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Serbia hires seasonal workers from India and Mongolia to harvest raspberries

High prices for raspberries in 2021 led to a new round of growing interest in raspberries not only in Ukraine, where the second raspberry boom is expected, but in Poland, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries engaged in their industrial cultivation.

According to EastFruit experts, many investors while expanding the areas planted with raspberries underestimate the importance of affordable labor for harvesting berries. Indeed, the combine harvesting of raspberries, even for freezing, is not effective today, since quality suffers. Accordingly, the price for it will be low compared to manual harvesting. This means that labor prices for harvesting raspberries in many countries may rise sharply next year.

A good example is Serbia, where, according to Sputnik Serbia, a shortage of labor for harvesting raspberries is forcing producers to look for workers even in far countries such as India and Mongolia. After all, the current record high purchase price for frozen raspberries reaching $4.2-4.9 per kg in Serbia allows to invite labor from anywhere in the world. However, this poses serious difficulties amid the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on international travel.

Therefore, berry pickers now mainly come from the countries of the region, primarily from Albania. How much are Albanian workers paid to harvest raspberries in Serbia? According to the source, Albanian seasonal workers earn about €30 a day harvesting Serbian raspberries, while they are also provided with food and accommodation.

EastFruit experts note that this is much more than the prices for raspberry harvesting in Ukraine, where workers receive an average of 500 to 600 UAH per day of work (€16-20). However, Ukraine also sells raspberries for export cheaper than Serbia. Serbia is one of the largest suppliers of frozen raspberries to countries such as the USA and Canada, where you can get a high price for high-quality raspberries, while Ukraine is just starting to export there.

By the way, getting a higher price for a finished product would also allow Ukraine to consider hiring seasonal workers from countries where the level of wages is lower and the labor force is abundant. For example, from Tajikistan or Uzbekistan. However, it is also important to have the support of the state. In Serbia, the Agrarian Ministry actively supports such initiatives and creates conditions for the attraction and legal employment of foreign seasonal workers.

In the context of high raspberry prices, Serbia is already planning to attract cheap labor from other countries in Asia and Africa. Companies specializing in the import of labor are emerging in the country, which also provide accommodation and food for workers in the region where the bulk of Serbian raspberries are grown.

In Ukraine only the expansion of plantations is being discussed so far, without regard to the fact that it is very difficult to find workers for berry harvesting.


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