Spain: AVA-ASAJA proposes converting 10,000ha of citrus production
The head of the Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-ASAJA) in Spain has described the current citrus campaign an "unmitigated disaster", and proposed 10,000 hectares of farmland be converted to combat the price crisis.
The group's president Cristóbal Aguado made the comments at a general assembly meeting, where he also said a citrus round table with various industry stakeholders should be launched in conjunction with the regional government to create a plan to combat the industry's loss of profitability.
Aguado's proposal for the land conversion would affect the clemunule variety - one of the most popular clementine cultivars grown in Spain - as well as Navelinas and navels, whose high yields are said to be concentrated in certain periods of the campaign and cause the sharp price collapses.
The project would preferably involve planting early or late mandarin varieties on the 10,000 hectares, but would not rule out the introduction of new crops entirely.
AVA-ASAJA said the conversion of these 10,000 hectares would withdraw more than 300,000 metric tons (MT) of fruit from the market.
"This proposal is only a first step, and we believe that it is realistic and perfectly feasible, and will allow us to organize our supply and try to gain some control over the markets. What is clear is that we cannot continue like this, campaign after campaign," Aguado said.
"Last year more than 3,000 hectares of citrus production in Valencia were abandoned, and during the last decade 24,500 hectares have been abandoned, which is about 13.5% of citrus production. The first to disappear are the producers, but if we reorganize ourselves and begin to act as a serious, professional and united sector, the Valencian citrus industry can have their days back, or we can watch the sector become a shadow of its former self.
"If we really want to resolve the current wretched situation, we will need to do it together through a round table."
The varietal conversion plans are part of a much wider and more ambitious reform project that agricultural representatives have been discussing in regular meetings.
Other initiatives announced by Aguado include obtaining new varieties from the Valencian Institute for Agricultural Research (IVIA), promoting consumption through healthy eating campaigns, and introducing legislative changes to make the way producers are organized more efficient.