No Berries, No Money.
Blueberry, cranberry, cloudberry – these are some of numerous wild berries that grow in the woods of northern Finland. They are known for their positive health effects and are picked by the native people for their own supply.
A berry picking business had been established in 2006. People from Thailand have been coming for the summer to pick berries - 3 months of roaming through forests sometimes meant a fortune, back when the berries were plentifull and the prices were still decent.
Since then the conditions have changed. I have been to Lapland to meet a group of 87 Thai people, mainly rice famers. They stay in an old school building outside the village, which is run by Kade. She is the organizer, interpreter and contact person for the berry pickers and the company.
The working days are very long. To find the woods with enough berries to pick, the berry pickers frequently drive hundreds of miles; they are trying to earn enough money to have something left after paying for their living expences, visas and the debts, that they may have made in order to come to Finland. Although the company is dependent on the berry pickers, there are no permanent jobs or contracts and only very small wages. It is far from certain that
a berry picker will have a decent profit - frequently it is minimal or none.