We pick your food': migrant workers
peak out from Spain's 'Plastic Sea'
In Almería’s vast farms, migrants pick food destined for UK
supermarkets. But these ‘essential workers’ live in shantytowns and lack
PPE as Covid cases soar
Photographs and drone footage by Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita
by Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita in Almería, Annie Kelly and Clare
Carlile
Supported by

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About this content

Sun 20 Sep 2020 12.00 BST

t is the end of another day for Hassan, a migrant worker from Morocco who has spent the
past 12 hours under a sweltering late summer sun harvesting vegetables in one of the vast
greenhouses of Almería, southern Spain.

The vegetables he has dug from the red dirt are destined for dinner plates all over Europe.
UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi all source fruit and
vegetables from Almería. The tens of thousands of migrant workers working in the province are
vital to the Spanish economy and pan-European food supply chains. Throughout the pandemic,
they have held essential worker status, labouring in the fields while millions across the world
sheltered inside.
Yet tonight, Hassan will return to the squalor and rubbish piles of El Barranquete, one of the
poorest of 92 informal worker slums that have sprung up around the vast farms of Almería and
which are now home to an estimated 7,000-10,000 people.
Here, in the middle of Spain’s Mar del Plastico (Plastic Sea), the 31,000 hectares (76,600 acres) of
farms and greenhouses in the region of Andalucía known as “Europe’s garden”, many of El
Barranquete’s inhabitants don’t have electricity, running water or sanitation.

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