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Mexican berry exports struggle with pandemic

The coronavirus has made its way across the world, and during the process causing uncertainty in Mexico’s economy and possible indications of a significant rise in unemployment.

Quadratin, a Mexican news agency, reports that in the state of Jalisco, which is one of the main berry producers, hundreds of workers have been dismissed as a result of the economic recession. Day laborers in the southern area of Jalisco are one of the hardest hit sectors, including workers within the cultivation of berries.

In the 27 municipalities where berries are produced, a majority of the 70,000 farm workers have been affected, since most of the berries are exported to the United States and Canada in addition to other destinations such as Japan, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates, which are all seeing lower demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

El Heraldo de Mexico, a Mexican news agency, reports that since many products are not able to be exported, many berries (fresh, dried, and processed) have been diverted to local markets to avoid further losses.

In an interview with El Heraldo de Mexico, the mayor of Sayula, Daniel Carrion, said, “Entrepreneurs are worried because the agricultural production cannot be stopped. They are warning that there will be economic losses in the harvest of berries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. All of their product is for export. Shipments have stopped or dwindled because all of the destination countries are experiencing a similar situation or worse. There will be economic losses, workers fear massive layoffs. Yes, there is a catastrophic economic scenario for the municipality.”

The berry production generates about 70,000 direct jobs in the municipality of Sayula, Jalisco.

“Farm workers may be the most vulnerable,” Carrion said. “We have many day laborers who in some way expose themselves to contact with other people who are a risk factor.”

Marco Campos is Media Coordinator, Latin America for Blue Book Services