Berry farmers in northern Finland are looking forward to welcoming more than the usual number of fruit harvesters this summer. With a plentiful crop expected this year, more hands will be needed to get the produce to market.
Businesses in Kainuu such as Kiantama, Ber-Ex and Kainuu Products have invited nearly 1,100 berry pickers to Finland to harvest the fruit in Kainuu, eastern Lapland and north east Finland.
The majority of pickers invited will come from Thailand, although this year some Ukrainians will also join the berry picking gangs. Due to the late maturity of the crop, some of the workers will arrive just one week before the start of the blueberry harvest.
Flights from Thailand to Finland have already been reserved and the first workers will arrive in a couple of weeks in time for the start of the picking season.
“The workers won’t have to pay for food or accommodation,” said Jari Valtanen of Kainuu Products. Most of its workers will come from Ukraine, the rest from Thailand. Its parent company Riitan-Herkku has recruited 700 workers for the harvest this year, compared to 610 last year. Some have also been recruited from nearby Sweden.
The Sami company Kiantama Ltd and the Sotkamo-based Ber-ex Ltd. have also enlisted the help of berry pickers from Thailand.