Açoriano Oriental
There is a lack of 500 agricultural workers

Agriculture is struggling with a labor shortage in São Miguel, estimated by the Agricultural Association at 500 workers, despite incomes of "more than a thousand euros"

There is a lack of 500 agricultural workers

Autor: Rui Jorge Cabral

The São Miguel Agricultural Association estimates that there is currently a shortage of at least 500 workers in São Miguel production, in various areas ranging from milk and meat production to feed manufacturing, horticulture and machinery repair.

This is so despite the fact that the salary of an agricultural worker, especially on dairy farms, is currently around one thousand euros net or even higher. And it is precisely in milk production that workers are most needed at the moment, since this is an activity where there are no weekends or holidays, as cows have to be milked every day of the year.

The problem of a lack of manpower is, in fact, one of the most worrying for the sector, and a commitment is already being made to training, which, on its own, may not be enough to reverse this situation.

As the president of the São Miguel Agricultural Association, Jorge Rita, explained to Açoriano Oriental, "there is agriculture that is seasonal, where we do not need people  fulltime; but if we look at the sector in the various areas that are linked to it, we have a problem of lack of manpower that is difficult to quantify for sure, but we can say that at least 500 people for agriculture would be very important at the moment in São Miguel".

Jorge Rita says that "there are a lot of labor difficulties at the moment", despite the fact that the salary of a worker on a dairy farm, for example, is currently "more than a thousand euros net per month".

There may be several reasons for this lack of manpower in agriculture, but one of the factors in milk production is the fact that it has to be done every day of the year, which means that many young people do not want to have to get up at dawn to go to work, for example, on a weekend, when their friends have gone out partying the night before. This is despite the fact that an agricultural worker, like everyone else, is also entitled to time off and vacations.

In addition to the issue of working weekends and holidays, Jorge Rita also regrets that there is still a negative image of agricultural work. That is why, he says, "it is important to create incentives, which also involve paying well”.

One of the measures that has been developed to reverse the lack of labor in agriculture is training. An example of this is the Agricultural Production Technician course at the Ribeira Grande Vocational School, in partnership with the São Miguel Agricultural Association, which has provided some of its technical knowledge to training.

As Jorge Rita concludes, "in addition to having more manpower, agriculture needs more qualified manpower" in areas such as food hygiene and safety, animal welfare or environmental issues.

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