Low Crop Prices

ALM Corrida de frutaIt’s amazing the difference between what the big supermarket chains pay farmers for their fresh fruit and veg and the price on the supermarket  shelves – and arguably unjust.

And then there is this drought, which only makes things worse.

Last year, farmers dumped two-million cucumbers as a sign of protest because the price that supermarket chains were offering were risible and here we are again and it appears to be shaping up into the same outcome.

The prices offered for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, courgette, runner beans etc fluctuates wildly but never in the farmers’ favour.

According to the Board of Agriculture department, Observatorio de Precios y Mercados, the average cost for producing tomatoes is 4,32 euros per sq/m with yield 13K per sq/m. This means that the production price per kilo is 33 centimes. Yet, the price offered over a space of just one week varied between 70 and 38 centimes (plum tomatoes) and between 88 and 69 centimes (vine tomatoes). So, the profit has swung between 40 centimes per kilo in the best case to just three centimes in the worse.

A factor to be taken into consideration is that the Andalusian market has to vie with Moroccan imports with the disadvantage of costing about ten times more to grow them here.

It is worth noting that the only reason that the EU agreed to allow Morocco to export tomatoes was in exchange for allowing EU fishing boats (the majority of which are Spanish and more specifically Andalusian) to fish in Moroccan fishing grounds. In other words, in order to favour the Spanish fishing sector, the Spanish agricultural sector has to struggle against cheap Moroccan agricultural imports.

According to the Junta, in the first 20 days of October, Morocco had already exported 40% of its permitted quota of agricultural products for that month in the form of 5,918 tonnes of tomatoes alone. Then there is the increase in cultivated area in Holland where tomatoes are grown. For both of these reasons, Andalusian farmers are looking to other types of crops.

Reactions to this situation have already begun with Agricultura Viva (a farmers association) on Friday the 22nd of October calling upon farmers not to hand their produce over to the traders. The reason for this course of action is that each harvest farmers are getting more and more into debt, losing their homes and farm after having used them as loan guarantees.

In the meantime, the association says, distributors “make laughable offers” which they have to accept, as it is better to earn something rather than nothing.

They also make worrying accusations that agricultural produce entering into the EU from Egypt and Morocco, where they use chemical products that are forbidden within the EU, enter without any checks.

Carmen Crespo, who heads the Regional Board of Agriculture promised at the end of last month to approach the Central Government, demanding an effort to beef up the Puestos de Inspección Fronterizos (PIF) so that these imports into Spain are controlled as rigorously as national products are.

(News: Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia – Photo J.M. de H.)

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