‘There is no time’: Agri-food internal migrant workers in Morocco's tomato industry

Lydia Medland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Agri-industrial production is supported by the agriculture–migration nexus, in which industrial-scale horticultural production relies on migrant workers. In this article I consider the time-related pressures on workers who are internal migrants from rural regions of Morocco. My account illustrates how workers are impacted by the demands from consumers for fresh food, year round, as well as by the rhythms of nature, and of social reproduction. I use concepts from EP Thompson's depiction of the transition from rural to factory work to describe the tensions in agricultural production at industrial scale for foreign markets. The concepts used are nature's time (related to seasonality, weather, daylight) and industrial time (of the market), and I adjoin to this the category of social-reproductive time in order to show these three time-related pressures function together. The identification of this threefold time-pressure on migrant workers in agri-food production builds on the recent attention of scholars to seasonality as a conceptual lens, and the identification of rhythms to highlight intersectional inequalities in the everyday. The paper is based on ethnographic and interview data from the Moroccan region of Chtouka Aït Baha, from which tomatoes and other crops are produced at industrial scale for export. I find that, together, the three temporal pressures lead to workers suffering exhaustion and finding themselves far from mobile and available to move with the seasons; rather, they are ‘locked in’ to this low-wage sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-490
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date20 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, under a UK Economic and Social Research Council ( ESRC ) grant (ref: 1325178 ). The funder has had no editorial input into this publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Structured keywords

  • Perspectives on Work
  • Global Political Economy
  • Cabot Institute Food Security Research
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol


  • Time
  • Work
  • Internal migrants
  • Seasonality agriculture
  • Morocco
  • Tomatoes


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