Students recruited to help with pear harvest this year


The pear season is starting early, and there is an acute shortage of seasonal workers to handle the harvest

Up to 3,000 workers needed

Students who find that their usual summer jobs in bars and restaurants have gone up in smoke in a year dogged by a lack of business can find work in a local orchard. Flanders’ department of agriculture has announced that orchardists are actively seeking “job students” to help with the pear harvest.

Students are usually already in class when the harvest starts, but this year it has come early because of the warm weather this summer. On top of that, migrant workers who often take to Flanders’ orchards ever year cannot travel because of corona restrictions. A similar phenomenon was seen during the spring harvest.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 extra hands are needed to pluck Conference, Doyenné and Durondeau pears. “This is an idea opportunity for students to earn a little extra,” said labour minister Hilde Crevits. “So we are calling on students to register on the website to help with the pears, among other harvests.”

Most of the pear harvest takes place in Limburg, but other regions also have orchards. Besides the central website, managed by Flemish jobs and training agency VDAB, students and other job-seekers can contact fruit orchards directly.

The number of days a seasonal farm worker can work is normally limited to 65 days a year, but this year the government doubled that to 130. Crevits noted that other harvests are in need of extra help, including apples, strawberries and tomatoes.

Photo ©Benoit Doppagne/BELGA