The first French agricultural union FNSEA, the French immigration office and the Moroccan employment agency have signed an agreement to “facilitate the recruitment of Moroccan seasonal agricultural workers” by French farmers, the FNSEA announced on Friday.
“This approach is part of the desire to meet the needs of farmers who are currently facing a lack of candidates, especially for seasonal work, calling into question certain crops”, indicates the majority union in a press release.
The agreement was signed with the French Office for Immigration and Integration (Ofii) and the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC).
The FNSEA thus says it wants to lay “the foundations for a virtuous and responsible approach, the challenge of which is clear: to offer farmers a collective and secure +process+ for recruitment, while guaranteeing employees an introduction, integration and return to their country in an organized and respectful framework.
“It’s a good example of circular immigration, with workers being transported using temporary residence permits, depending on the agricultural production calendar,” the director general of the agency told AFP. ‘ ‘Ofii, the prefect Didier Leschi.
If the framework agreement, consulted by AFP and dated June 27, does not commit to any quantified objective, it is part of an “explosion” of the use of Moroccan seasonal workers in recent years, said Didier Leschi: 15,700 seasonal workers from Morocco came to work in France in 2022, more than 10,000 in 2021, 6,300 in 2018.
“We bring them in permanently”, summarizes the boss of the Ofii, who also organizes the arrival of workers from Tunisia and Turkey, but in a “more limited” way.
Foreign seasonal workers, who have returned in large numbers since the lifting of restrictions linked to Covid-19, are an essential cog in the wheel of French agriculture.
In agricultural companies, this labor force has become so essential over the years that employers have asked the French authorities to organize exceptional airlifts at the height of the pandemic, to transport arms while the the air links were at a standstill.
The Ofii had thus brought in 900 Moroccan workers in October 2020 to “save the harvests” of Corsican clementines. Or 300 others in December of the same year to Bouches-du-Rhône and Vaucluse to work in market gardening and horticulture.