Last week the agriculture of Almeria was attacked again by foreign media, with a video that shows images with testimonies around a point with which one can believe or not, and as always, giving false information and drawing erroneous conclusions.
DW is a German media source that publishes in several languages, so we can watch the video in english here.
Before the video even begins, you can read a text that is already off to a bad start: we suppose that defining Almeria as a single greenhouse is metaphorical, but it does not do justice to the family farming model that is characteristic of our system. The fields of Almeria employ 100,000 people, and it is profoundly untrue that most of these people are undocumented immigrants. It is actually the opposite: the vast majority of people who work in agriculture in Almeria do so legally. As in other sectors, some business owners take the risk of hiring illegally, and it is the responsibility of the administration to detect and sanction these practices. We do not intend to defend those who do not comply with the law, we only aim to denounce the continuous misinformation that is published about our agriculture.
The video begins, and we read once again that here we work in conditions of slavery, something that is simply false. In our company, as in many others in the fields of Almeria, we not only hire legally, abiding by the collective labour union agreements, but we voluntarily submit to the GRASP standard audits, a GLOBAL GAP module that certifies good social practices on our farm. But of course, accompanying a fallacy with a real testimony gives it a lot of credibility. Let’s discuss this first testimony.
Almeria is a city located a few kilometers from the African coast, and sadly, it is possible to find settlements of people living in unfortunate conditions, but blaming Almeria’s agriculture for social inequality on the most unequal border in the world is tremendously unfair. These people are fleeing from their countries of origin, which are rich in resources that are plundered by those who have the most, and they find that they have to demonstrate having lived in Spain continuously for 3 years to apply for a work permit. The resulting settlements, or the idea that this person can support his life only thanks to drugs, are apparently the fault of us farmers in Almeria. We are experiencing a global humanitarian crisis that must be addressed by the different administrations, starting with the EU, urgently, so that we can all return to thinking that we are humans and not beasts. But unfortunately, we are not the ones in charge. Almeria’s agriculture is the basis of the coexistence of the more than 110 nationalities living today in the province, and that can be seen by taking a simple walk through El Ejido, something that these types of reporters rarely do. Because you can find settlements, but you can also find thousands of families of different nationalities who have managed to make a life in Almeria for years, and to which we owe that public education in the area is a melting pot of cultures.
A clear example is Evans Nugmertey, whose testimony follows next in the video. A person who is working in a greenhouse at the time of the interview, he is young, with an accent from Almeria, and he speaks of people who come from Africa to Almeria in the third person. He is in all probability an Almerian who is working with his contract in a greenhouse, as happens most of the time.
We then are returned to the first protagonist of the video, named Ismail Ayaman, who says that the heads of the greenhouses are criminal organizations, because they spend millions to build a greenhouse, yet can not spend anything to build a house so that the people who live there can live with dignity. Well, to begin with, it must be said that many farmers do have small buildings next to their greenhouse that they offer as a home. We have to recognize that it is true that building a greenhouse is very expensive, and that farmers pay for it over the course of a lifetime, like with a home mortgage. Now, our obligation is to offer legal and dignified work, but they will agree that, again, the responsibility for housing people fleeing poverty can not fall on the farmers of Almeria.
The last testimony we love, because it is from a farmer named Tobías Über, living proof that a foreigner can prosper in Almeria so well as to have his own business. He talks about a real problem: if they pay you badly for your crop, you have to find a way to earn money yourself.
Almeria’s agriculture is hardly subsidized (nor do we claim that it is) and is strongly subject to the law of supply and demand. This means that farmers often face several years of losses. It may well be necessary to reflect on this problem in a global way, not only from the field, but also from the commercial auctions, from distribution chains, from the administrations, and also from the point of sale.