Spain will take in around 100 people from Senegal to work on its farms as of April. The migrant workers are expected to work for a limited time before returning home.
Spain plans to bring in at least 100 migrant workers from Senegal to tend to its farms during the harvest season starting April, Reuters cited a government source as saying on Thursday (March 2).
The government hopes the program will replicate the success of a 22-year-old so-called circular migration scheme with Morocco, in which around 15,000 seasonal workers are brought in to work each year in Spain's agricultural sector for a limited time before returning home.
The southern European country uses circular programs to limit irregular migration while simultaneously tackling labor shortages in the agriculture industry, another government source said. The latest proposal, however, marks the first time Spain has extended the program to a sub-Saharan African country.
Spain's past experiments with seasonal migrant workers
In 2022, Spain conducted a pilot project with Honduras, bringing in 250 migrant workers. This year, around 415 Honduran workers and 102 from Ecuador have traveled to Spain to pick berries, staying for an average of five months.
Another pilot program in 2019 with Senegal saw only 18 out of 47 Senegalese workers return home. But in a 2022 pilot program, all 17 participating migrant workers did return to Senegal.
Spain's Migration Ministry has not disclosed information on how it amended its selection criteria to ensure migrant workers returned home after the program in 2022. According to Reuters, the ministry has said the selection of personnel is in the hands of Senegalese authorities.
In rising tensions between Madrid and Dakar, Spain saw the arrival of more than 30,000 Senegalese irregular migrants to the Canary Islands in 2006. The two countries came to an agreement: increased vigilance by EU border police of boats leaving the Senegalese capital of Dakar in exchange for aid and pledging to accept legal workers.