Refugees trained as viticulturists in the Loire Valley

Tuesday June 04 2019 by Vitisphere

The Amboise school of viticulture has trained nine male refugees in France. All of them spent several weeks in wineries, and several were hired. The Amboise school of viticulture has trained nine male refugees in France. All of them spent several weeks in wineries, and several were hired. - Photo credit : Ingrid Proust

Mirza Rohani is a happy man. After fleeing Afghanistan, he found refuge in France. At 38 years old, he trained in viticulture for nine months at Amboise school of viticulture and at Jacky Blot's estate in Montlouis. He has just received his end of training certificate and Jacky Blot has hired him for several weeks. “My training went very well, it wasn't too hard for me”, he smiles. “I had already worked in the table grape vineyards of Afghanistan”.

Like Mirza, eight other refugees who have been allowed to stay in France have followed a training programme at the Amboise school of viticulture. The men, who come from Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea, learned how to prune and do canopy management, took part in the harvest and were introduced to welding and driving specialist machinery. “They're great guys. They are very observant, they want to work and they abide by the rules”, says Thierry Hesnault, a trainer at the school. “From the beginning, they have shown real commitment”, adds Jérôme Delpy, an employee of the Bio-Solidaires association.

Mirza and his classmates also had French lessons and were given housing and mobility support. They spent seven to eight weeks, in pairs with another trainee, with winegrowers from Indre-et-Loire and Loir-et-Cher.

Conclusive experiment

The industry is facing major recruitment challenges and now has fewer preconceived ideas about people of different colours or religions”, says Thierry Hesnault. The Amboise school of viticulture is already preparing to train new refugees. Eight more people will be taken on at the school and with winegrowers from next October until May 2020.

 

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