Accompanied by the general director of Agricultural Production, José María Salamero, Joaquín Olona met this afternoon with representatives of the fruit sector of Aragon to analyze the conclusions of the three days organized by the department around the market crisis of sweet fruit and review the recommendations of the experts.
Speaking to the media, the counselor stressed that this crisis is due to “a structural problem of mismatch between supply and demand, which is affecting especially family farms.
Thus, in the short term, it has affirmed that it could act with the operative programs of the organizations of producers, “forcing that the money that is distributed goes of a clear way or more directly to the small exploitations”.
He has rejected the possibility of allowing “starts” because, in his opinion, “can lead to a loss of productive capacity”, to insist on the need to limit new plantations and dedicate resources to a “fundamental problem, which is the lack of commercial structure “.
Olona has detected that there is a “deficit” in the commercial capacity and to organize the supply of the fruit sector in Aragon when warning that in recent years “the amount allocated to commercial actions has been practically nil”. “We should not be surprised that we have commercial difficulties when we are not allocating the investment effort to improve our commercial structure.”
“The sector asks for immediate solutions, but there are none,” lamented Olona, expressing concern about the situation that small farms are going through. “I am immediately offering the possibility of establishing low-interest loans, practically at zero interest, so that farms that are in very complicated liquidity situations can face them”, but from the sector, this measure is considered “insufficient”.
In any case, facing the next campaign yes you can take measures to address the problems of commercialization, carrying out commercial actions and allocating resources also to “voluntary withdrawal programs, which can be financed by the producer organizations themselves”.
In addition, it has observed that 50 percent of the producers are not part of organizations and, in the case of the peach, “25 percent of the production is alien to these organizations, it is a problem that we should correct”.
“I do not want to avoid the responsibility of the administration in this deficient behavior of the producer organizations, but it is necessary that the will of the sector go in that sense of grouping” and that, at the same time, these organizations “are oriented for what they were created, as a community tool to organize and improve marketing, not production, “he stressed.
Also, he has opined that certain varieties “are not adjusting well to market demand”, mentioning the case of the peach with which “we attend something worrying that is the fall in consumption”. In this regard, he has estimated that the problem may lie not so much in that the variety is not adequate, but that “perhaps the cultivation process or harvesting is not adequate” to meet the needs of the market.
He pointed out that the commitment of the department is that by the end of this year “we have an action plan” agreed with the sector because “the survival of many family farms is at stake and public funds must be dedicated to guaranteeing the viability of the small family farms that in the fruit growing of Bajo Cinca, La Almunia or Calatayud are the basis of our rural economy, “he said.
On the other hand, the representative of the sector of fruit and vegetables of the Aragonese Federation of Cooperatives, Javier Basols, has influenced the need to take short-term measures “to alleviate the bad campaign we have had in this 2017” and that is seen reflected “when farmers receive the liquidations”.
“There are many farms that are in a very complicated situation,” he lamented, adding that production costs are “above thirty cents”, while the settlements that are received are “at 0.20, 0, 22 or 0.24 euros, clearly we are well below the production costs “.
He agreed that it would be convenient for producers to group more and organize “better the sector”, as well as to promote the products because it is an aspect in which “very little has been done so far”. “Recovering consumption is essential,” he said.
As for short-term measures, they should be “direct aid to the sector, such as soft loans, modules in the income statement, if it were possible to start or limit plantations that would help stabilize the sector in the short term”, Basols has concluded.