Helped rural community cope with crisis and food chain continuity

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Jose Manuel ROCHE RAMO

UPA Aragón represents and defends the interests of professionals in agriculture and livestock and is in fact the organisation that brings together the majority of the Aragonese agrarian sector: family farms whose owners are small- and medium-scale farmers and livestock breeders.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we have worked harder than ever, since we are considered to be a key sector. Indeed, we didn't stay at home but kept on working, taking care of the cattle and continuing to supply food to supermarkets to make sure that people did not go without. The emergency that began  on March 14 caught us right at the start of the harvesting campaigns for many products, so we established an information network in which, through videoconferences, phone calls, etc., we informed farmers and livestock breeders about the regulations that were approved by the government on mobility restriction, risk prevention measures, etc. We took active steps to communicate with farmers and livestock breeders and to keep them informed so that, at all times, they knew how to organise their different activities. At UPA, we started to purchase masks, hydroalcoholic gel and gloves so as to be able to supply the farmers and livestock breeders who requested them, but also all those seasonal workers who had come from third countries, especially Morocco and other African countries.

We have also been doing a lot of work to keep the temporary workers on our farms informed, especially with regard to mobility, accommodation and safety equipment.

Now we are involved in a new project that UPA is developing with an association of rural women. The project is called Alimentos solidarios and we are managing grants from municipalities, councils and private companies that want to collaborate. We buy local food from farmers and livestock breeders who live in villages for example, and who are in a difficult situation because they cannot bring their products to market. We buy these products and distribute them free of charge to those who are most vulnerable  as a result of COVID-19: people who have lost their jobs, immigrants, etc. And we are providing food, clothing and medicine.