Earlier this month, the annual algarroba harvest started in Mallorca. The fruit of the algarrobo tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is better known to us as the carob fruit or St. John’s Bread. In September and October, Mallorcan farmers used to beat the dark brown carob beans off their trees with long sticks. In the 21st century, this annual activity has become more and more neglected. Manpower is too expensive nowadays in Mallorca and the harvest is not worth the farmer’s effort any longer, unless he does the job himself.
The other day, I saw an old farmer near Llucmajor beating the carob trees. He was in the company of two young men, possibly immigrants from South America, helping him gather the harvest into large container bags holding approximately 750 kg each. They are likely to fetch no more than 18 cents per kilo at the dry fruit dealer’s almacen (warehouse). That’s about 135 € per bag, or just over 800 € for a days work. Taking away 200 € for paid labour and 50 € for transport, the pagès (farmer) will have made 550 € for 10 hours of hard work, a year’s rent for the use of the farm, quite a bit of work ploughing the land plus a lot of headache. That’s not the way to get rich quick, or is it? And that’s exactly the reason why the young generation does not want to know about algarrobas any more, or indeed about farming in general.
The photos were taken near Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 6th, 2011. The time was 13:30:05 and 13:30:57, respectively.