Spanish ag ministry urged to remove 10,000 hectares of stonefruit orchards - FreshFruitPortal.com

Spanish ag ministry urged to remove 10,000 hectares of stonefruit orchards

A Spanish fruit association has urged the Ministry of Agriculture to remove 10,000 hectares of stonefruit orchards to relieve market pressure.

Catalan stonefruit growers' association Afrucat said peach and nectarine orchards should be ripped out from around the country.

The group on Tuesday approved to make the request for an emergency plan for the struggling sector, which has been plagued by low prices in the European market over recent years.

It said that by removing hectarage in Cataluña, Aragon, Murcia and Extremadura, production could be reduced by 25%. That would greatly boost market conditions for growers, it said.

Afrucat estimates losses from the 2019 Catalan stonefruit season to be around 90m euros. Meanwhile, the proposed plan would cost the government 50m euros, it said.

Sisco Palau, president of Afrucat, highlighted the need to implement emergency measures "for a sector that has been heavily affected by losing money in three consecutive campaigns, has suffered incremental costs and has not been able to increase returns".

He also said it would be key for all the sector's organizations and unions to unite to around this plan.

Other measures Afrucat proposes are investments to reduce the rising costs of production, the opening of new markets for Spanish growers and the formation of growing unions.

Speaking on the 2019 season, Afrucat said Spain's traditional stonefruit markets were saturated this year, largely as an ongoing consequence of the Russian import ban implemented in 2014. Costs also rose by 15%, driven by an increase in the minimum wage.