Romanians harvest Yugoslav crops - then go shopping

Yugoslav private farmers need hands and neighboring Romanian peasants need goods that are not available at home. Would that all dilemmas could be so easily solved.

Yugoslavia's 21/2 million individual farmers can never get enough labor. Peasants as well as urban workers have gone to jobs in Western Europe.

But in the Banat region between the two countries, an unwritten ''common man'' contract between villages on both sides of the border is solving the problem. When Yugoslav farmers need hands, word goes over the border - locals may cross at will - and the Romanians respond.

Both parties to the deal are satisfied. For the Romanian guest workers, it means earning the Yugoslav dinar equivalent of $10 to $15 a day. And the dinar, despite devaluations, is still a very good currency for East Europeans.

Before returning home, the ''guests'' shop in the regional capital for good quality wallpapers, household appliances, and other goods that are unavailable or too expensive in Romania.

After this year's harvest, a Yugoslav said: ''Without the Romanians, our maize would not have been cultivated and gathered.''

The Romanians, said another farmer, ''work honestly and well.''

Asked why he didn't hire Yugoslavs, he said: ''I can't get them. The young people have gone either to the big towns or abroad.

''My son and daughter-in-law are in Switzerland. They earn Swiss francs. Our Romanian workers get dinars with which they can buy nice goods. This way it is profitable all round.''

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