In Spain, an aging population and a shortage of farm labor are threatening the country’s agricultural sector. Faced with this situation, a program in Catalonia is dealing with the training of immigrants, mainly those coming from Africa. They are being trained to use mechanized tools, preparing them for a meaningful and sought-after occupation in the agricultural market.
The instability created by recent political upheaval in Africa and natural disasters in Morocco and Libya have some leaders in Europe preparing for a continuing wave of migration.
“We are directly affected by the events in the Sahel, as neighbors and partners. This is also the reason why migration and security are key elements that we must take into account in the design of the strategy for development cooperation”, says Josep Borrell, the head of the EU’s foreign policy.
Spain is often the first stop of the wave of migrants from the Sahel region, with many seeking to work in the agricultural sector. Language and lack of skills, even on farms, are barriers to their employment.
A group of young people from Africa live, work and train in this agricultural facility. The Voice of America spoke with Mr. Jose Maria Monter who organizes their daily schedule.
“They come here with the idea of improving their lives. They are very grateful and appreciate the training”.
The facility is owned by the nonprofit OTA Foundation, part of a public-private partnership that includes the Raimat Lleida Community Foundation, which is partnering with agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere and the US-based nonprofit United Way. , to teach young migrants how to use agricultural machinery.
The use of mechanized agricultural tools requires the involvement of all workers, eliminating the exclusion of individuals for various social reasons, despite the fact that fruit picking and other physical work can be monotonous and without contact with other workers.
Mamadou Jallow from Gambia joined the program to learn to drive in October
“I like to work with masters, and for a long time I thought about how I can get the license.”
Spain ranks among the countries with the lowest birth rate in Europe. Many young people are leaving rural agricultural areas and settling in urban centers.
“The biggest problem Spain currently has is the lack of labor,” says Jose Maria Monter, with the OTA Foundation.
The initiative supported by the Catalan government offers patents for mechanized tools and the chance for young migrants to find a good job and integrate into Spanish society. In this way, immigrants help the country to renew the agricultural sector which is in a desperate situation.