Spanish farmers unhappy with the performance of two new mandarin varieties have filed a complaint with the country’s Plant Variety Operators’ Association (ASOVAV).
The 78 growers are victims of the “disastrous performance” of the Safor and Garbí varieties launched by the Valencian Institute of Agricultural Research (IVIA), according to Valencian farmers’ association AVA-ASAJA.
The growers are requesting financial compensation from the autonomous government agency.
AVA-ASAJA said the two cultivars, which were commercially launched in 2008, had been presented a the institute’s “star” products and promoted at 38 conferences focused on the citrus industry, as well as internationally.
“However, in the 2012-13 campaign – when the trees began to enter into production – the results were the opposite to what had been announced by the IVIA,” AVA-ASAJA said.
It said a large quantity of production of both varieties had physical defects on their skin of such severity that they could not be sold, and the situation had not improved over time.
A study commissioned by ASOVAV and carried out by Agustín Conesa, an agronomic engineer at the Miguel Hernandez University, laid bare the magnitude of the problem.
“The average percentage of fruit affected was 29.8%. In 23 of the samples, the percentage was higher than 35%. With these figures it is not economically viable to harvest and store the fruit,” he said.
Almost 600,000 trees have been sold so far – 412,000 of Safor and 174,000 of Garbí – and AVA-ASAJA said the widespread poor results had forced dozens of farmers to take action.
IVIA has claimed it is not responsible for the problems and said that no issues were detected during the experimental stages, suggesting that the weather might be to blame, according to AVA-ASAJA.
In their complaint, the growers say that the IVIA had not provided sufficient information before selling the varieties and had caused “costly and irreparable damages.”
They also said that if the institute does not provide compensation they will take legal action.