Recherches récentes Mes recherches
Vous consultezChapter 9. Social responsibility in agriculture
AuteurCatherine Rivoal du même auteurJournalist, France
Catherine Rivoal trained as a journalist and worked for various media (press, television, radio, Web) for several years before entering the communications field, where she works for various economic sectors either within major groups or as a freelance journalist (aeronautics, energy, etc.). It was through this activity that she joined the French ministry of agriculture in 2002 before devoting her attention to forecast studies connected with globalisation and international relations. She now works on international forestry affairs but is still a freelance writer regularly publishing articles in specialised journals.
In 2010, UNESCO proclaimed the Mediterranean Diet part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity for its “set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food”, adding that it also “promotes social interaction”. Although the nutritional model is undisputed, the means used to produce its various components merit closer examination, for the question is being raised of whether the Mediterranean Diet is socially responsible and it is justified.
2 The first part of this article will endeavour to analyse production conditions, highlighting in particular the hardship of producers and the precarious nature their labour. The second part will address seasonal migratory movements, which form the backbone of this agricultural sector, and will endeavour to identify their role, causes and consequences as well as the types of community concerned.
3 Mediterranean crops are highly seasonal and very exposed to water stress. They are generally labour-intensive and have low capital intensity table olives are still mainly harvested by hand, for example. What form does this labour take today, and what are the working conditions?
4 Agriculture is the second-largest employer in the Mediterranean region after the services sector. Horticultural and oil crops, the symbols of the Mediterranean Diet, are predominant. “Mediterranean farmers are leaders in the supply of fruit and vegetables, particularly early fruit and vegetables, to Europe. The extent of intensive protected cropping (greenhouses, foil cropping, plastic sheeting) is a good indicator of this trend: with its 400,000 hectares of protected crops it is the second-largest production area in the world after Asia.” (Roux, 2006) And the region has an oil crop acreage of 8 million hectares, the bulk of which is devoted to olive oil production (Achabou et al., 2010). Both types of crop are highly labour-intensive: they are unprofitable for the producer (Grittani, 1988) and provide in the main low-paid, insecure jobs and very difficult working conditions.
- Self-employment in a context of small family farms and small secondary trades processing agricultural products.
- A high proportion of generally unpaid female labour and family helpers, who are not included in the national statistics.
- Seasonal agricultural production resulting in underemployment of the labour force available.
- Insecure and intermittent paid employment, which is promoted by the absence of, or by non-compliance with, labour legislation.
- Few vocational training opportunities, and lower levels of education than in urban areas.
- An underdeveloped economic fabric and lack of infrastructures making rural areas less attractive.
5 In the northern Mediterranean countries, the rural sector still employs 50% of the working population, although there is a sharp decline in rural employment, while the population is ageing, and agricultural work is often underrated. The effects of this erosion are offset, however, by incentive policies, a mechanism that is absent in the countries on the southern shores. More specifically, the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union has revived rural economies to some extent by reducing development disparities within the EU. The development of ancillary activities (sale of agricultural produce and products that have been processed in short food chains) or other activities (tourism and leisure pursuits, industries that have been relocated to rural areas and associated services) is revitalising hitherto deserted rural areas. Minimising labour costs remains the main key to crop competitiveness; it has enabled certain agricultural sectors to emerge since the 1970s, such as early fruit and vegetables in Andalusia (vegetables from Almeria Province, strawberries from Huelva Province, and peaches from the area around Seville (Roux, 2006). But it is nevertheless a model that is currently raising a number of questions in terms of social and environmental responsibility.
6 In the southern Mediterranean countries, agriculture still provides the highest proportion of jobs and is a core sector in rural societies. The informal sector still plays an important role, acting as an economic stabiliser. Farming jobs account for an average of 80% of rural activities and a very significant share of the total working population in the North African countries (20% in Tunisia and 25% in Egypt compared to less than 5% in France, Italy and Spain), even though that share is lower than the world average. The high proportion of agricultural employment in rural areas is to be explained, however, by the fact that there is very little diversification of activities, since these areas fail to attract the industrial activities and services that could develop there. What is more, States do not always provide economic support for the sector, a factor that has been aggravated by two decades of “structural adjustments” and foreign trade liberalisation: in Tunisia, for example, the share of public investments in agriculture has dropped by 40% since 2000 from 14% to 8%.
7 For want of such support, the agricultural sector has benefited little from the modernisation brought by the industrial era: there is very little irrigation despite the arid and semi-arid climate; although mechanisation has developed, its impact is limited by a farm area of less than 10 ha. The land reforms that have been introduced in some countries of the Maghreb (abolition of the habous In Islamic law, the habous denote a form of legislation...
suite) have had little effect on the redistribution of the agricultural area and have not really made it possible to create new farms. Agricultural systems are thus struggling to reform, and this is having a direct impact on social conditions in rural areas: the ratio of the minimum farm wage to GDP has been shrinking (even though it is often higher than the wages actually paid), the unemployment rate is higher than in urban areas, farm operators are ageing (less than 15% of them are under 40) (Riadh, 2010), and poverty is rising.
Fish and shellfish are an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet. Yet the fisheries sector is still highly fragmented, except in the EU countries. While France, Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal have increased the capacities of their fleets and fishing boundaries, the fishing industries in the other Mediterranean countries are often small-scale local craft industries (Basurco, 2010). The fishing sector provides a livelihood for 630,000 people, some 300,000 of whom are fishermen (Pere and Franquesa, 2005). This manna could shrink drastically as the result of water pollution and the depletion of fish reserves.
In the southern Mediterranean countries, coastal fishing accounts for a large share of production. It is a sector where wage costs are low since seasonal employment is widespread. What is more, the seasonal workers employed on the fishing boats are paid low, or no, wages and work in difficult conditions. In the Mediterranean region, Spain (which owns or manages the fourth largest number of “flag of convenience” vessels in the world), Morocco, Malta, Cyprus, France and Lebanon have been criticised by the FAO and/or the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) for owning “flag of convenience” vessels.
8 One of the major phenomena that have occurred since the southern Mediterranean countries gained independence is the increase in women’s participation in the economy. Whereas in 1950 the proportion of women in the working population was around 5%, it has now reached over 20% in all of the countries except Palestinian Territories (Aïta, 2008). Many more younger-generation women are now entering the labour market than has been the case hitherto. However, although an improvement, the effect is as yet unlikely to narrow the gap between the region and other parts of the world. For in the Arab countries the gross economic activity rate for women (expressed as a proportion of the female working-age population) is still 10 points below the average of the least developed countries.
Table 1 - Working population in 2010
9 In many countries the agricultural labour force consists essentially of women. But there are still many obstacles preventing women from taking part in the economy of rural areas: they are subject to discrimination at several levels (education, cultural pressure, access to credit, vocational training, and wage level). Gender pay inequalities are flagrant. In Tunisia, a woman can earn 5 dinars a day where a man will earn that amount for one hour’s work. Lastly, women’s access to land ownership is still very limited (CIHEAM, 2010).
10 The same trends are also found in the northern Mediterranean countries. Although there are only half as many women as men in the working population (3% compared to 5% on average), a great many women are employed in the informal sector and thus are not covered by the statutory health and safety provisions, which causes problems in the event of accident or illness. Casual and/or seasonal work is a further widespread feature of female labour in Europe. Women are furthermore concentrated in elementary tasks and they have a lower level of agricultural training than men.
11 In a publication issued on 21 January 2011 (United Nations, 2011), the United Nations states that rural women benefit less than rural men for equal productivity and face new challenges in connection with the present economic and food crises. As the result of the widespread unemployment amongst women and the shrinking of social assistance infrastructures, the burden on households is growing and women are not being paid for their labour. Their contribution to household food security is shrinking accordingly, a particularly dire state of affairs when they are the head of the family.
12 In an article published at the end of 2010 European Economic and Social Committee, Plenary session...
suite, the European Economic and Social Committee stressed that “it is essential to enhance the role of women and young people in farming and rural society. [ …] New structural policies and incentives are needed that will give value to women’s work, enable them to move out of the informal economy, and foster the creation of community associations as a means of boosting entrepreneurship, which is also needed in the agricultural sphere.”
13 The involvement of children in working life is a reality common to the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries, despite their international commitments. The International Labour Office (ILO) reports participation rates ranging from 2% to 11% (for the 5-14 age group) depending on the country. It is estimated that 250,000 to 300,000 children are working in Algeria; 28% of these children work a long way from home, 53% say that they are working to help their families, and 75% say that the money they earn is given to their parents.
14 According to the World Bank, the proportion of children in the labour force dropped from 12% to 8% in the period from 1990 to 2002, and there were still 1.6 million child workers in 2010. The vast majority of these children (68%) work in the fields in rural areas. In Lebanon, the labour-force participation rate for the 10-17 age group is also 8%, with a higher rate for girls (10%). Half of these children earn wages and 64% work full-time. The highest child labour rates are observed in rural areas, particularly in northern and southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. An estimated 25,000 children work in tobacco plantations in that valley, a phenomenon that the ILO describes as one of the “worst forms of child labour” due to the harsh working conditions and the consequences for the children’s health (backache, allergies and respiratory problems). The youngest of these children learn to pick, spike, thread, cure and smooth tobacco from the age of 5.
15 As regards Morocco, a survey conducted in 2003 in the context of the Understanding Children’s Work programme counted over 600,000 working children. In fact, over a million school-age children do not go to school, and domestic work is generally not included in the survey. A recent study on Palestinian Territories showed a labour force participation rate of 4.6% for the 7-17 age group: 6.5% in the West Bank and 1.7% in Gaza. Two-thirds of these children are unpaid family workers. In Syria, an official labour force survey carried out in 2001 (Aïta, 2008) listed 180,000 working children between 10 and 14 years of age, which is a higher number than the figure quoted by the ILO, with a labour force participation rate of 1% to 2% for 10-year-olds and, for 14-year-olds, a rate of 25% for boys and 13% for girls. Tunisia states that “Although child labour is not widespread, there is still unacceptable exploitation of children to some extent, mainly in the informal economy, the domestic services sector and agriculture. The Tunisian government has certainly made appreciable efforts to address the problem, but it is essential to carry out further research and take other measures in this field.” Independent studies quote a labour market participation rate of 3.1% for the 10-14 age group. (Aïta, 2008).
16 Migration is a removal from one place to another. This removal can take the form of periodical migration, where people return regularly to their point of departure, or definitive migration, where they abandon their original place of settlement completely or for a very long time. Temporary migration, on the other hand, can be weekly, seasonal, daily or even twice-daily commutes to and from the workplace, generally referred to as “commuting”.
17 Taking all categories of migrants together, there are thus 200 million people who migrate each year, i.e. 3% of the world population. Paradoxically, migration is the poor cousin of globalisation. Over 60% of migrants do not leave the southern hemisphere, and 90% live in 55 countries.
18 There are marked migratory movements in the Mediterranean region. Without the possibility of emigrating the unemployment situation would become intolerable. Migratory movements thus provide “a real ‘social buffer’ against poverty and an effective input for investments” (Doz, 2008, p. 8). In eight countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Syria it transpires that “whereas there were between 7 and 12 million first-generation emigrants (only half of whom ( …) emigrated to Europe), there are between 7 and 10 million immigrants and refugees in the southern Mediterranean countries” (Aïta, 2008). They come mainly from Iraq and Sudan, and most of them arrive in the Mashrek. Taken as a whole, the Arab countries of the Mediterranean have taken in many more immigrants and refugees than they have sent out. In 2009, 12.7 million emigrants left the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries (Fargues, 2009); 8.2 million (64.7%) of them emigrated to the European Union, 2.7 million (21.4%) to the Arab countries (Gulf, Libya and other southern and eastern Mediterranean countries), and 1.7 million (13.7%) to other regions of the world. The agricultural sector is a source of employment for many of these migrants, whether as a motive or as a result.
Migration, a precondition for the reduction of labour costs from which mainly the northern countries benefit
19 For employers, migrant populations are a godsend for minimising costs and having greater flexibility. Wages are lowered, working time is extended or shortened according to production needs, constant availability of labour is ensured through various channels, employment is concealed (and thus tax-free), and worker output is maximised (Potot, 2010). The northern countries are more attractive to migrants and benefit all the more, in more or less permissive regulatory frameworks.
20 The insecure employment of immigrants in the agricultural sectors of rich countries is not a new phenomenon. Almost 100% of the workers employed in strawberry production in the Huelva region in Spain are foreign seasonal agricultural labourers and an increasing number of them are women. The setup is very similar in the Puglia region in southern Italy, where 12,000 migrants are recruited every year to pick tomatoes for the agro-food processing industry (Brovia, 2008). Some of these labourers are recruited on the basis of a quota system established at government level and involving a complex procedure that is open to numerous forms of abuse. The remainder of the workers are recruited informally and subject to the ‘caporalato’, a labour management system based on the delegation of recruitment and supervision to unscrupulous underlings.
21 In France, foreign workers can be brought into the country legally on temporary immigration contracts, known as “IOM (International Organisation for Migration) contracts”, which are fixed-term employment contracts running from 4 to 6 months and extendible to 8 months. “These contracts are used mainly in the agricultural sector (95% of the people brought into the country) and serve as residence permits: when they expire the workers have to return to their home countries ( …).” (Darpeix and Bergeron, 2009) Some 15,000 IOM contracts were signed in 2009 compared to a total of 7,696 in 2000. In some regions such as the Bouches du Rhône they account for up to 50% of seasonal employment. What are the advantages of this type of contract? IOM workers are a loyal work force 85% of them are brought back from one year to the next. Often from rural backgrounds, they are skilled at their work. And lastly, “their ( …) loyalty is to be explained by the opportunity cost of losing their job. The fact that the right of abode is linked to the employment contract and that the contract is non-transferable means that farmers can exert pressure on these workers. In the event of litigation between employers and workers, it is difficult for the workers to stay in the country legally and enforce their rights.” (Darpeix and Bergeron, 2009)
22 The malpractices connected with these contracts include the failure to report health problems, accidents, illnesses or overtime. Furthermore, the fees paid by employers to the Agence nationale d’accueil des étrangers et des migrations (national agency for the hosting of foreigners and migration Anaem, formerly the Omi) for “importing” workers is frequently deducted from the workers’ wages, which is absolutely illegal. These migrants men and women often come from Tunisia or Morocco on their own as commuters or regular immigrants. The six months they spend in France are their main, or even their only, spell of work. The employers control the duration of their stay through their employment contracts and by renewing the contracts from one year to the next, the principle being to oblige the seasonal workers to return to their countries of origin in the intervening period between two “seasons” (Potot, 2010).
23 The workers thus develop strategies for adapting to stress, known as “coping strategies”. Workers who have no residence permit form the most flexible segment of the sector’s labour force, without which the system would lack flexibility. Since they are prepared to accept very low wages, which are sometimes even lower than the statutory minimum wage, and long working hours and they tolerate racist remarks and jokes, their colleagues are obliged to do likewise and feel threatened by this competition. A manna that is easy to employ and easier still to fire at any moment.
24 Migrants rarely belong to the poorest fringe of the population, for it requires considerable financial means to leave the country as well as good networks, whether fees are charged, or not. Although this phenomenon is widely observed throughout the world, it is not the case in certain countries such as Egypt (Sabates-Wheeler et al., 2005) and Syria, where it is in fact the poor who emigrate more than the other income groups. Emigration is thus still a way out of poverty and a means of coping with job shortages. Migrant farmers form a heterogeneous group. They sometimes even have a few hectares of land and may also work in urban areas or on other farms as agricultural labourers, this multiple jobholding involving a wide range of activities being essential to their survival strategies.
25 What is more, migrant women farmers are becoming an increasingly frequent phenomenon, and in most cases their migration is organised through service companies. They often migrate to closer destinations, working in seasonal jobs in the informal sector. Since it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain family reunifications in the host countries, these women migrants accept very low-paid jobs, which in many cases are also devoid of any social entitlements.
26 When one addresses Mediterranean migration issues, the main difficulty is to obtain reliable statistics. There are two reasons for this. In the human mobility field, figures are highly political, both in migrants’ countries of origin and in host countries. Neither the Gulf countries nor Libya or Sub-Saharan Africa provide statistics yet they are the destinations of many migrants. A further reason is that migration paths are becoming increasingly complex, and many migrants particularly those who migrate on a temporary or irregular basis slip through any “accounting” systems. Lastly, statistics never underline the differential between the desire to migrate and the achievement of that goal.
27 Circular migration is becoming more and more frequently the lot of seasonal agricultural workers. The term means that migrants undertake to return to their countries of origin even before they set out from home or that the return journey is a compulsory stage of the migration process. These terms are often laid down in a contract, as is the case in Spain, where Moroccan women are recruited through agencies. The French-style IOM contracts are another form of enforced circular or pendular migration, where insecurity is organised from the outset and seasonal workers are obliged either to return home or to stay on as illegal immigrants. This is in the interests of employers, since they only have to pay the workers during part of the year if they return to their countries of origin during the low farming season (Roux, 2006).
28 As in other economic sectors in the Mediterranean countries, it is the employers who manage agricultural migrants rather than the States themselves. Morocco concluded agreements with Spain and France in the early 2000s making provision for the joint selection and management of temporary migrant workers.
29 Although these circular or pendular migratory movements enable the host countries to generate economic benefits without paying the identity costs of permanent migration, and although they also spare migrants who leave their families and countries excessive emotional costs, they unfortunately only too often go hand in hand with the denial of the most fundamental human rights.
30 A prominent phenomenon since the beginning of the 21st century has been that illegal immigration has spread to the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries themselves. In Lebanon, Syrian workers, who are exempted from residence formalities, are employed as seasonal labourers in low or semi-skilled jobs in agriculture or the building industry. There are reportedly several hundred thousand or even half a million such workers who cross the border in northern Lebanon every day or every week. When the Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon in 2005, the resulting uneasiness prompted many of them also to leave the country, but by 2008 the volume of Syrian labour in Lebanon seemed to have returned to the pre-2005 level. This labour force remains fluid with frequent movements back and forth to Libya, generally for short stays.
31 “Wages are rarely higher than 8,000 Lebanese pounds (LBP), i.e. 4 euros, for a 10-hour day with a half-hour (unpaid) lunch break. And on the 10,000 LBP that Bekaa farmers pay per person which is already lower than what is paid elsewhere (25,000 LBP in southern Lebanon) the chawish [middlemen between the migrants and their employers] actually charge a commission of 1,500 to 2,000 LBP).” (Garçon and Zurayk, 2010)
32 Why do people leave rural areas for the city or for a neighbouring or more distant country? The tendency of farming populations to migrate seems to depend to a large extent on the land factor, land tenure, and how agricultural production is organised. Long-distance and long-term migration often concerns families who hold land title and thus own land, whereas temporary and circular mobility is connected with the production system of farming families with precarious land tenure (day labourers, share croppers or leaseholders). There are two factors which promote migration: the “push factor”, which drives people away from a place, and the “pull factor” which draws them to another location (Barrett et al., 2001) where firms in the host countries have a high demand for immigrant labour. Migration is at a maximum when both effects are at work. The current debate in the European Union on illegal migration disregards the fact that the reasons behind migration are not to be found solely in the migrants’ countries of origin and that the pull effect such as the increase in undeclared work or agricultural protectionism in Europe can also have a strong impact on these movements.
33 Difficult farming conditions due inter alia to water shortage, price variations and climatic uncertainty, the steady drop in incomes, market shortcomings or lack of outlets are all factors that have a push effect on farmers (Cadilhon, 2005). In addition, these migratory movements raise the question of land resources and how they are used. Ancestral rights, inequalities in agrarian structures and the fragmentation of family properties are a powerful factor that drives people to emigrate to other countries.
34 Some migrants who have built up investment and networking capacities (family networks and/or social, political and economic networks) set up production structures with good market integration, use techniques and inputs with which they can sustain productivity, and recruit labour (the pull effect of migration). But migration does not act as a regulator of land pressure and inequalities in every country. As Geneviève Cortès points out, “Emigration abroad, which is the privilege of those better endowed with land, is more a catalyst of unequal access to resources; it simply reproduces, or even exacerbates, the same inequalities.” (Cortès, 2002) “Take Tunisia, for example: it was the granary of the Mediterranean in Roman times, but the State preferred to invest in tourism. As soon as one penetrates the interior, there’s absolutely nothing there any more. And, as a result, the peasant farmers who were driven from their land contributed to rural-urban migration: it is those peasant farmers who today are looking for jobs and housing and who stage violent demonstrations or sacrifice themselves when there is no response.” (Clarini, 2011) Why? In Tunisia, about 18% of the working population was working in the agricultural sector in 2010, a proportion that has been in marked decline since the 1960s. “What is more, in rural areas farming jobs now account for only 50% of total employment.” (Elloumi, 2006). The proportion varies, however, from one region to another (the Centre-West region, including the Sidi Bouzid governorate, is still mainly agricultural).
35 Rural-urban migration is continuing in agriculture in most of the Arab Mediterranean countries and people are losing interest in land-related occupations, but the other economic sectors are not sufficiently dynamic to meet the demand for jobs. It is clear from the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco towards the end of 2010 and in the course of 2011 that food and endemic employment problems are the main issues at stake in the region.
36 Crises and political repression stimulate “migrant labour supply” this is a widespread phenomenon in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. Of the 15 million refugees registered in 2007 34% came from those countries and 39% had taken refuge there. And whereas the average number of refugees is dropping throughout the world, it is rising in the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean. The political crises in Iraq, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria and Yemen and the growing number of Palestinian refugees are the main causes of this influx of people. It is an important factor in the rural landscape of the various countries. For together with all of the illegal migrants these refugees constitute a reserve of underemployed labour with which wages can be kept low on labour markets where the unemployment rate is already high.
37 Although it is difficult to measure the impact of the 2008 economic crisis on migratory flows within the Mediterranean region and between Mediterranean countries and the rest of the world, it seems to have reduced the demand for labour on the whole and thus capacities for employing migrants. Job supply has diminished more or less throughout the region and in the countries of the European Union. In some countries, more migrants are returning home and/or the numbers of new emigrants are dropping. In countries such as Spain, for example, indigenous workers are tending to take jobs that were previously held by migrants particularly migrants from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in agriculture and the services sector. And it is a well-known fact that it will become harder and harder for the least-skilled migrants to find work. It has been observed furthermore that women’s share of farming jobs has grown. In the Gulf countries, the collapse in oil prices when the price per barrel dropped from 147 $ in July 2008 to 62 $ in October 2008 and in world financial markets has resulted in a drop in the demand for migrant labour since 2008. Conversely, the economic crisis is keeping migratory pressure high in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. That crisis is thus upsetting the balance in migrant labour “supply and demand” and exacerbating tensions between migrant and indigenous populations, in turn promoting securitarian policies.
38 The loss of a labour force and land abandonment, or better distribution of arable land and intensification of production the consequences of agricultural migration in the Mediterranean are many and varied, and not necessarily adverse.
39 Rural migration raises as many hopes as it does concerns. The incomes that migrants send back to their families by remittance can enhance food security, help to diversify livelihoods and incomes and reduce vulnerability to shocks. However, this exodus also reallocates household labour associated with productive and reproductive activities in the areas of origin, reduces labour for food production and increases the work load of the men and women who stay behind. By swelling the ranks of labour and enlarging the pool of consumers, migrant workers can boost economic growth in the host countries, even if the influx of migrants in urban centres is liable to considerably exacerbate food insecurity. However, ensuring that emigration does not jeopardise domestic development by multiplying the number of households headed by a woman, the number of spectacular age and gender-based population changes and the number of variations in labour market dynamics is a permanent challenge for the countries of origin, where the labour force is constantly evolving. (FAO, 2011)
40 The effects of migration vary widely depending on the types of migrants involved and the cultural gap between the home and the host countries. Migrating means different things to different people, depending on whether they have chosen or been forced to do so, whether they are rich or poor, or whether they migrate within the same community or go to live amongst a different nation which speaks a different language.
41 From the economic point of view, agricultural migration results in loss of labour for the least densely populated rural areas, thus contributing to the disintensification of agriculture, a decrease in cropland acreage and, eventually, a high rate of land abandonment, as is observed in Lebanon. Migration is thus one of the arguments put forward to explain the expected loss of 20 000 ha of arable land in the Bekaa plains by 2020. Yet in Latin America, Asia and Africa migrant farmers’ or farm labourers’ transfers of funds enable farmers and their families to invest in agriculture and modernise farming methods. When Moroccan farm managers who work in Europe on a seasonal basis return to Morocco, for example, they use their earnings to purchase a tractor, with which they work their own land, and then improve the return on their investment by renting it out to other farmers.
42 Agricultural migration also has identity-related and geopolitical consequences, both in the countries of origin and in the host countries. Almost 100% of the workers employed in strawberry production in the Huelva region in Spain which ranks second on the world market are foreign seasonal workers, for example. The 2008 economic crisis hit the Spanish economy very hard, and unemployment figures have been rising steadily to over 21% in Andalusia. So national workers are beginning to “return to the fields” (Cambon, 2009), a trend that is causing quite some tension. In Spain, the fact that illegal migrant populations, who are paid less than 2€/hour, and new jobless workers are having to compete with each other has given rise to violent conflicts, as was also the case in Rosarno, Italy, in January 2010 http:/ / www. rfi. fr/ anglais/ actu/ articles/ 121/ article_ 6461. asp...
43 Although the health advantages of the Mediterranean Diet are uncontested, is the production model associated with that diet responsible? Given the current production methods, this is open to question. Mediterranean crops are particularly exposed to natural and economic hazards and they maintain a form of poverty that affects primarily women and children. A further feature of the production systems associated with this diet is the use of migrant workers, who are often employed in appalling conditions. The world economic situation does not help this state of affairs, stimulating competition between the migrant source regions, which in turn makes these populations even poorer. This being so, it is not surprising that the Tunisian revolution was rural to begin with before spreading to the cities. Mohamed Bouazizi, a jobless young graduate, lived in Sidi...
44 How can these challenges be addressed? Social standards including the ISO 26000 reference system, which has been built up in line with the existing systems or ILO standards, would be an avenue if they could be imposed as imperative frames of reference in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainable development. As is the case with many international standards, they are not as yet binding. Consumers must also play a role by promoting voluntary adoption of these standards. But being in a position to do so presupposes that they be given means of identifying and purchasing socially responsible products.
45 With regard to migration, is an intergovernmental policy feasible other than border controls? It is what the ILO would like to promote when it calls for more “solidarity” and “coordination” on the part of States in a context of economic crisis. State strategies that consist of closing borders by means of visa or immigration policies are counterproductive. Can one accept migrants for fruit-picking in the summer season and then ask the political leaders in the “supplier” countries to close their borders for the rest of the year? For the current forms of migration are much more a matter of mobility and co-presence (pendular migratory movements) than of settlement. But the more frequently the borders are closed, the more people tend to settle for fear of not being allowed to return home and come back again. Conversely, the more open the borders, the more migrants tend to circulate and the less they settle. Lastly, these policies will not resolve the problems of low-skilled labour needs for agriculture and are liable to swell the ranks of illegal workers.
46 More generally speaking, since it is not so much the types of crop that pose problems as the prevailing socio-political circumstances in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries, the emergence of the rule of law and a new form of governance could help to reduce social marginalisation.
Achabou (Mohamed Akli), Blanc (Pierre), Dekhili (Sihem), Emlinger (Charlotte), Madignier (Antoine) and Strohl (Jean), “Crop products: Mediterranean specialities”, in CIHEAM (ed), Atlas Mediterra. Mediterranean Agriculture, Food, Fisheries & Rural World, Presses de Sciences Po-CIHEAM, Paris, France, 2010, pp. 68-77.
Aïta (Samir) (ed), “Emploi et droit du travail dans les pays méditerranéens et le partenariat européen”, Étude comparative, Madrid, Fundación Paz y Solidaridad Serafín Aliaga de Comisiones Obreras, 2008.
Barrett (Christopher B.), Reardon (Thomas) and Webb (Patrick), “Nonfarm Income Diversification and Household Livelihood Strategies in Rural Africa: Concepts, Dynamics, and Policy Implications”, Food Policy, 26, 2001, pp. 315-331.
Basurco (Bernardo), “The Sea and the Fisheries Sector”, in CIHEAM (ed.), Atlas Mediterra. Mediterranean Agriculture, Food, Fisheries & Rural World, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po-CIHEAM, 2010, pp. 96-97.
Brovia (Cristina), “Sous la férule des caporali. Les saisonniers de la tomate dans les Pouilles”, Études rurales, 2 (182), 2008, pp. 153-168.
Cadilhon (Jean-Joseph), “Rural Labour Distribution in a Dynamic Agricultural Region: The Case of Phan Thiet, Vietnam”, Geography, 90 (2), Summer 2005, pp. 121-137.
Cambon (Diane), “La crise renvoie les Espagnols aux champs”, Le Figaro économie, 17 April 2009.
CIHEAM, “Women in agriculture and the rural environment”, CIHEAM Watch Letter, 14, Summer 2010.
Clarini (J.), “Du pain et la liberté!”, “Les idées claires”, France Culture radio broadcast, 1 February 2011.
Cortès (Geneviève), “L’accès aux ressources foncières, enjeu de l’émigration rurale andine”, Revue européenne des migrations internationales, 18 (2), 2002, pp. 83-104.
Darpeix (Aurélie) and Bergeron (Émeline), “L’emploi et la compétitivité des filières de fruits et légumes: situation française et comparaison européenne”, Notes et études socio-économiques, 32, March 2009, p. 11.
Doz (Javier), “Preface”, in Samir Aïta (ed.), “Emploi et droit du travail dans les pays méditerranéens et le partenariat européen”, Étude comparative, Madrid, Fundación Paz y Solidaridad Serafín Aliaga de Comisiones Obreras, 2008.
El-Hage (Anne-Marie), “Le dur labeur des enfants du tabac”, L’Orient-le Jour, 20 July 2005.
Elloumi (Mohamed), “L’Agriculture tunisienne dans un contexte de liberalisation”, Région et développement, 23, 2006, pp. 129-160.
FAO, “Food, Agriculture & Decent Work. ILO & FAO working together. Rural Migration”, 2001 (http://www.fao-ilo.org /migration).
Fargues (Philippe) (ed.), Migrations méditerranéennes. Rapport 2008-2009, San Domenico di Fiesole, Robert-Schuman Center for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, October 2009.
Garçon (Lucile) and Zurayk (Rami), “Dans les champs de la Bekaa”, Le Monde diplomatique, September 2010.
Grittani (Giovanni), “L’économie de l’olivier dans le Midi de l’Italie”, in Mahmoud Allaya (ed.), L’Économie de l’olivier, Paris, CIHEAM, coll. “Options méditerranéennes”, série “Études”, 1988, pp. 63-70.
Pere (Oliver) and Franquesa (Ramon), “La pêche en Méditerranée”, Les Notes d’analyse du CIHEAM, 3, 2005.
Potot (Swanie), “La précarité sous toutes ses formes: concurrence entre travailleurs étrangers dans l’agriculture française”, in Alain Morice and Swanie Potot (eds), De l’ouvrier sans-papiers au travailleur détaché: les migrants dans la modernisation du salariat, Paris, Karthala, 2010, pp. 201-224.
Riadh (Béchir), “Pauvreté et niveau de vie de la population rurale en Tunisie”, CIHEAM Briefing Notes, 67, August 2010.
Roux (Bernard), “Agriculture, marché du travail et immigration. Une étude dans le secteur des fruits et légumes méditerranéens”, Mondes en développement, 2 (134), 2006, pp. 103-117.
Sabates-Wheeler (Rachel), Sabates (Ricardo) and Castaldo (Adriana), “Tackling Poverty-Migration Linkages: Evidences from Ghana and Egypt”, Working Paper, T14, Development Research Center on Migration, Globalization and Poverty (DRC), October 2005.
United Nations, Gender Dimensions of Agricultural and Rural Employment: Differenciated Pathways out of Poverty, Washington (D.C.), United Nations, January 2011.
 In Islamic law, the habous denote a form of legislation governing land ownership. There are three types of habous: public, private and mixed. (The term “habous” is used mainly in the Maghreb.)
 European Economic and Social Committee, Plenary session on 17-18 February 2010.
 Mohamed Bouazizi, a jobless young graduate, lived in Sidi Bouzid, a rural commune in central Tunisia where unemployment is rife, particularly amongst young people. Victim of a violent police attack while selling fruit and vegetables on a street stall to support his family, he set himself on fire in protest on 17 December 2010 and died 19 days later.
PLAN DE L'ARTICLE
- Precarious farming, the other side of the picture
- Risk and opportunity of seasonal agricultural migration
- Migration, a precondition for the reduction of labour costs from which mainly the northern countries benefit
- Who are rural migrants? Trends in a disparate population
- Increasingly irregular migration, also in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries
- The causes of rural migration in Mediterranean countries
- The balance of migrant labour supply and demand affected by the political and economic crises
- The consequences of migration: development or desertification
POUR CITER CET ARTICLE
Catherine Rivoal « Chapter 9. Social responsibility in agriculture », in MediTERRA 2012 (english), Presses de Sciences Po, 2012, p. 197-210.
URL : www.cairn.info/mediterra-2012-english--9782724612486-page-197.htm.