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Work experience Refugee farmer project helps facilitate integration

SEM Gattiker and power point presentation about refugee farmhand project

SEM director Mario Gattiker presenting the results of the pilot projects with refugee farmhands. 

(Keystone)

A three-year project for refugees to work on Swiss farms has been hailed as a success, despite organisational shortcomings.

A study by the Bern University of Applied Sciencesexternal link found that farm managers were very pleased with volunteers.

The work experience allowed participants to improve their professional, social and language skills, officials said on Wednesday.

The Farmers’ Associationexternal link and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM)external link said they have launched one-year training courses for 12 people, mostly volunteers from Eritrea in all the German-, French and Italian-speaking regions of the country.

sem refugee farmers

Tefu Adhanom - Refugee in farming sector video

Farmhands

As part of the pilot project by the main farmers’ group and the SEM, 30 participants took part in the pilot project and most of them completed their stint successfully.

The aim was to find ways of integrating refugees and people with an F-work permit into the labour market in the farming sector, according to the initiators of the project.

However, the study authors also conclude that the national project had several flaws, notably a cumbersome organisational structure, the location of many farms in remote regions, or the time needed by participants to get used to the work as farmhands.

The authorities recommend future projects to be launched at a regional level.

swissinfo.ch with SDA-ATS; urs

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