Fruit Today talked to Quico Cañamás, from Cañamás Hermanos, about some of the problems that the citrus fruit sector has been suffering from during the first quarter of the campaign.
Far from thinking negatively, the executive underscores the fact that most of the crop is yet to be harvested, although actions must be taken against the endemic problems suffered by the sector.
Should we learn to live with the 2 million tonnes from South Africa?
Of course, but this coexistence must be carried out on a level playing field; the rules of the game must be the same for everyone, and here I am referring to highly important aspects such as plant health, food safety or salary framework. In the case of South Africa, none of these three points are met. For example, the European Parliament talked about the idea that on the third intervention with problems the port of origin would be closed. There have been many more than three interventions and no South African ports have been closed. This is not just happening with citrus fruits, it is also affecting tomatoes, lemons, beans, etc.
The obvious interpretation is that there is a conflict of interests between what is advisable for Northern Europe, where there are large ports and cold storage installations, and Southern Europe, where the labour for agricultural production is located.
At the close of a black quarter, would you dare to predict what could happen throughout the rest of the campaign?
Indeed, the campaign is very long and we still have 9 months to go. With the start of the year, new varieties come into play and the market will be emptied of goods from the southern hemisphere. I am not defeatist and we should try to do things well, turning the situation round because many families depend on us. To do this, the administration, private exports and cooperatives, agricultural trade unions and other social agents must tackle the question together.
However, the competition will not be South African, but it could come from Egypt.
Without any doubt, and the most curious point is that, once again, we are facing a non-European producer country (that is to say, not subject to European legislation), with a financial context of constant devaluations of its currency to make the export conditions more attractive (as occurs in the South African Republic) and with mass trading directed towards Northern European countries, where, as I mentioned previously, there is a conflict of interests between Northern and Southern Europe.
If Intercitrus had been active, would things have been different?
The interprofessional association is the most significant speaker that we have and this speaker is not working. Everything necessary must be done to start it operating effectively. The necessary protocols must be promoted to defend the sector from intrusions and in order for this to happen, demagogy and personal egos must be put to one side.