José Climent talked to Fruit Today about some of the sector’s key aspects: the citrus fruit crisis and the search for new production alternatives by the organisation’s members
What is your opinion about the turmoil the sector is going through?
Many opinions have already been given about the reasons behind this situation, but what I would like to emphasise is that in spite of the fact that we are Europe’s pantry, the agricultural sector is being ignored. It would be a very serious mistake to depend on third countries to eat.
This type of situation is destroying the European producers and, from my point of view, this is going against the keystones of the creation of the European Union.
It is incongruous that the PAC, with one of the highest budgets within the 27, will open up its gates to productions that do not meet the same requirements that we have to uphold.
Persimmons continue to be one of the cooperative’s strongest bets, is that right?
Yes. Additionally, we have made some highly significant investments regarding this crop. However, I must say that I am a firm believer in giving alternatives to the farmers and single crop farming makes me panic-stricken. At the moment, we are also working towards high quality citrus productions; I am referring to late varieties of the Tango and Nadorcott type, which in spite of their royalties, give farmers good results.
What has the campaign been like?
The important drop in production has meant fluidity in the consumption, with prices above those reached last year. Our installations are ready to cover a potential of around 42,000 tonnes, but this year the reduction has been general for everyone and we have only reached around 30,000.
What alternatives are being planned?
We are aware that there is a risk of persimmons becoming a commodity. There are already persimmons coming from abroad and varieties other than the Rojo Brillante and that can produce all year round. We have 930 farmers, who maintain a constant mentality of innovation and change. They are very demanding and they want the planned new alternatives to work. Although we are a cooperative with a diversified production (in a normal campaign we have around 42,000 tonnes of persimmons, 16,000 of citrus fruits, 12,000 of stone fruit and around 200 of watermelons), we continue looking for alternatives. One of these involves yellow kiwis and we are also experimenting with Apirena grapes.
And what is your opinion regarding stone fruit productions, where you are a reference in the Community of Valencia?
For many years we have been a reference due to our commitment to varieties, but today the situation has changed. The profitability of stone fruit is zero and, I believe that, at present, the only option in view of the data regarding the increase in production in recent years, is a reduction in the offer.