Oslo youngsters stand in for foreign workforce on Norwegian farms
Norwegian farmers have looked to alternative labour resources after foreign workers in areas such as fruit and vegetable picking were temporarily kept away by travel restrictions.
Although the country is now open to tourists from most of Europe, the closure of Norway’s borders by the government at the outset of the coronavirus crisis has impacted labour force on farms which typically hire seasonal workers from countries such as Vietnam, Ukraine and Poland, newspaper VG reports.
Although Norway announced the re-opening of its borders for seasonal workers from the EEA as early as March 30th, the use of local labour as a stand-in has continued in at least one case.
Anders Hørthe, a farmer who produces squash plants, told VG that he initially looked to help from Oslo’s Vestre Aker neighbourhood, which he found assistance in sourcing young people looking for summer holiday work.
Hørthe chose to keep using youth workers when rules were updated to enable seasonal workers from abroad to return to Norway.
“We all know that youth is vital for the future. Youth leaders and groups from Oslo are a resource we are working with. I believe that agriculture has a number of valuable things to offer society. Leadership and helping people to develop while also producing and selling food are pillars of society,” he told VG.
The farmer explained that more senior youth workers are trained so that they can train younger recruits in turn, ensuring safe and efficient processing of the produce.
He added that he saw the use of local young people as potentially benefitting society.
“In recent years, us farmers have had free access to labour from outside of Norway, but I see that some of the important values young people learned in the past [from seasonal work, ed.] have been lost. In that sense, I hope I’m contributing to society,” he said.