A fantastic crop of plums, but who’s going to pick them?

Seasonal plum pickers in Serbia can earn an average of 4,000 dinars per day, which is an average of 1,000 dinars more than in 2021. Nevertheless, this year is specific, the farmers reveal, because there is no one to pick the most recognizable fruit in Serbia.

Milen Rakićević, a plum producer from the village of Dolje Grgure, in the municipality of Blace, which is the record holder for the production of this fruit, admits that there are as many problems as you like, but the biggest one is the labor shortage.

– Unlike last season, when we were able to find pickers, this year I turned hundreds of numbers. I called people from Leban, Bojnik, Surdulica… However, our plums were left untouched, we currently have three wagons of them, one of which we placed in tubs and intended for brandy. Since we can’t find any workers, my father, who is 80 years old, my wife, son and I have been in šljivik for days. And that’s how it is every day – says Milen.

He adds that his plum trees are full of fruit, but unpeeled.

He adds that his plum trees are full of fruit, but unripe. – The people here either won’t work for a daily wage of around 4,000 dinars, or they are old, unable to do that hard work, or they go abroad. In addition, our young people are employed in factories around Prokuplje, so plum producers really have a problem. And just this year, she gave birth fantastically, we grow her on two or three hectares. Harvesting of the highest quality Stanley variety will last about another week – reveals Rakićević.

Producers emphasize that they rarely sell fruit on the territory of Serbia due to low purchase prices. The harvesting of the Čača beauty is over, and the pickers, if there were any, would have their hands full, because it was the turn of the Stanley variety. In order to live solidly, growers say that the purchase price of plums needs to be between 70 and 80 dinars, but this year it is still very low.

– Currently, it is very low, 13 dinars per kilogram, and the pickers are asking us to pay them 10 dinars per kilogram harvested. This means that I, as a producer, have three dinars left. What should I do with that money – asks Milen.

The market is unstable anyway, and since the purchase price varies throughout the season, the question remains whether he will be able to sell the plum, because there are no buyers.

– There is a high probability that our crop will fail. The fruits are already rotting, partly because of the humidity, partly because there is no one to pick them. Last year, we sold a kilogram of plums at a purchase price of 45 dinars, and this year at 15, so you can see how things are. In my area, there are 20 dryers and 10 refrigerators, and they are also full of labor – says Rakićević.

About 2.5 million plum trees have been planted on the territory of Blac, and around 5,000 wagons are harvested annually, making the municipality of Blac the leading producer of this fruit. In addition to Toplički, the leaders in plum production are Mačvanski, Kolubarski and Šumadijski districts.

In Serbia, it is cultivated on about 74,000 hectares, with an average production of 550,000 tons. We are the third country in the world in terms of production, and fifth in terms of export of prunes, with around 5,500 tons annually. It is estimated that there are 42 million trees of this fruit in Serbia. With their increase, the export of plums also increases. Last year, exports (mostly dried) from Serbia to the Russian Federation, Slovenia, and France were worth 15.4 million euros.

Source: Politika

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