Tropical fruit producers are asking for a serious Hydrological Plan that helps to ease the current drought
The hydrological year started off as the second driest one of the century and, as the months go by, the situation of the Spanish fields is becoming more concerning.
In the area of la Axarquía, the cradle (along with the Tropical Coast) of European avocado crops, the campaign is being adversely affected by the lack of water and, if this continues, the next mango campaign could arrive with 30-40% less volume. “If the sky does not cry, we will,” sources from the Spanish Tropical Fruit Association lament.
The avocado yield has dropped considerably and the small-sized fruit are plentiful, representing 30% more volume than last year. “The producers are extending the irrigation as much as possible to make the production profitable, and the watering is not what it should be. This is the reason for the small sizes.”
Although in general the prices are slightly lower than in 2021, the average at source is going to be much lower due to the high volume of smaller sizes and the discards. It is worth remembering that, on average, the smaller-sized fruit are paid at around 25% less than the more ‘commercial’ calibres.
Another problem has been added to this situation: “the market is not on our side.” For some months now imports of fruit from third countries such as Colombia, Israel and Peru have caused a slowdown in the commercial pace. Every year larger volumes arrive from Latin America, Israel and Morocco, which continue to increase production.
The growing foreign competition is a handicap for Spanish farmers, who are forced to look for greater profitability, but who do not have an essential resource: water. “We are producers, we offer top-quality and we are also the pantry of Europe. The Administration should look out for our sector more, as we are the country that leaves the smallest carbon footprint in order to reach the end consumer. But if we carry on like this, we will not be able to compete with the low wages of other sources. It is very important to have a Hydrological Plan (desalination plants, waste water transformation plants, water channelling and transfers…) and to be sustainable with the water. We need short and medium-term solutions. Farming is our winning horse in the EU.”
In Axarquía alone tropical fruit generate around 15,000 direct and indirect jobs and over 3,000 million €.