When you buy the red juicy strawberries that flood the market do not forget those who pick them.
Because, the fruit that can yield more revenue than any other agricultural product is one of the lowest paid and most labor- intestive crops. To harvest the fragile strawberries, the laborers bent at the waist for many hours and pick them with great care. Then they arrange them neatly in baskets. The same persons are often responsible not only for gathering and packing the fruits but also for cultivating the plants.
The photo is taken from indymedia *
In Greece, most of those workers are migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Albania. The fact that many of them are illegal immigrants helps explain green -house strawberry boom in the area of New Manolada in the district of Ileía (W. Peloponnesos). Today almost 95% of Greek production comes from that area. Greece and Russia are among the major consumers, though in the last years Greek strawberries are exported to many European markets too.
By relying on poor illegal migrants, New Manolada’s growers offer wages which are very high to sustain a Pakistani or Albanian family back home but very low to sustain a family in Greece. The “lucky” immigrants live in crowded conditions (that is, 10-25 persons per house). The “unlucky” ones live in the greenhouses, where there are no toilets and drinking water….
But the worst part of the job is that some of the nastiest chemicals are used in non organic fields and greenhouses. The soil is zapped clean with powerful chemicals, the fruit is protected with potentially cancer- causing fungicides. It is not surpising that life expectancy for a strawberry worker who is exposed to chemical toxic drift is less than 50 years.
When you buy non- organic strawberries, when you wash them thoroughly under clean, running water before eating them,
do not forget those workers who came from far away lands….
leaving behind their beloved families….
living under miserable conditions…
trying to sustain the hope for a better future, though.
Click here for informations about Nea Manolada’s strawberry workers and first immigrant’s strike in Greece for better working and living conditions as well as higher wages:
*You can find many images of this subject at indymedia.