The Spanish government said Tuesday it will make it easier for migrants and the unemployed to work in agriculture during the coronavirus pandemic.

The availability of such workers had been "clearly restricted" due to curbs on movement to contain the spread of the virus, said the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas.

But if farmers failed to carry out harvests coming due, prices would rise due to shortages of produce, he warned.

Two-thirds of Spain's production goes to European markets, he said, calling agricultural exports "a very important source of income".

Spain traditionally uses thousands of seasonal workers from abroad to pick stone fruits.

Spanish strawberries make up most of the European market at this time of the year Spanish strawberries make up most of the European market at this time of the year Photo: AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER

Many harvesting seasons start in the coming weeks.

The production of strawberries in the province of Huelva represents 90 per cent of the European market at this time of year.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government has approved a decree to guarantee until June 30 the workforce needed for food production, estimated to be "between 75,000 and 80,000 workers", Planas said.

It will allow the hiring of both the jobless, who will be allowed to keep their unemployment benefits, and foreigners who are "legal residents in Spain", said Planas.

If their work permits expire before June 30 "they will be renewed", he added.

The policy also targets "young foreigners between 18 and 21 years old, for whom a work permit can be provided so they can perform these tasks", he said.