A migrant employed as an agricultural worker in the countryside near Foggia in Italy's Puglia region | Photo: ANSA/FRANCO CAUTILLO
A migrant employed as an agricultural worker in the countryside near Foggia in Italy's Puglia region | Photo: ANSA/FRANCO CAUTILLO

Migrant farmworkers employed in Italy's agricultural sector have thanked the Italian government for passing an amnesty that will give them the chance to apply for a short-term stay permit. Some, however, note that a six-month temporary permit makes it impossible for them to plan for the future.

"We are very grateful to the Italian government and (Agriculture Minister Teresa) Bellanova for their efforts,'' said 38-year-old Jacob Adam about the amnesty passed last week for undocumented migrants working in the agricultural and other sectors in Italy. 

However, the Nigerian migrant with a seasonal contract also noted, ''it is impossible for us to plan a future and continue to live legally in this country with a three-month or six-month permit''. 

Ago, another migrant, is employed as part of the Sfruttazero tomato growing project in the Japigia area of Bari in Italy's southern region Puglia. Ago said that through the short-term legalization, ''someone can be legal only for a few months, for the time necessary for the agricultural season, the life period of a few plants." 

''Once the season and contract are over, the stay permit ends as well. This measure is linked to production and not to the needs of people. It is instead necessary to be granted a permit lasting much longer than a few months. 

"We cannot, every time, hope to get another six-month permit for the next six months while we are working every day to get food on the tables of Italians, living years and years while waiting for amnesties and legalisation,'' Ago said. 

Foggia ghetto farmworkers call it 'end to exploitation' 

Thierno Diallo, a representative of foreign farmworkers living in a 'ghetto' of Borgo Mezzanone, a shantytown in the countryside near Foggia, said: "Finally, a just measure that can help the many farmworkers living in ghettoes in the Foggia province'' in the Puglia province in southern Italy, ''especially in this period in which more manpower is needed for the asparagus harvest."

He added that the government measure that calls for the temporary legalization of migrants ''will help many workers that are being exploited in the fields." 

"By legalizing the workers," he said, "many of them will no longer be forced to ask" intermediaries for work. 

Diallo said that this will be ''of significant help, especially since after a few weeks, the tomato harvest will begin and the number of migrants in the ghetto will rise daily."

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