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Citrus imports to Valencia hurt local production
The import of foreign citrus fruits in the Region of Valencia continues to be a problem for local producers, even more so after Egyptian citrus arrived unexpectedly in the most recent campaign.
This was reported by the general secretary of La Unió de Llauradors in Castellon, Ramón Mampel, who assured that “the arrival of Egyptian citrus fruits in the second part of the campaign in our region caused the prices of our products to sink.”
Egypt has thus added to the problem that was already caused by the citrus exports from South Africa, which have also put growers in Valencia and Castellon on guard. “Citrus fruits were allowed to be exported from South Africa until 30 November,” said Mampel, who pointed out that “we do not think it’s wrong for foreign citrus to be imported when production is still scarce, but there is a problem when the sale of our citrus fruits overlaps with that of products coming from South Africa and other countries, which may not have gone through the necessary phytosanitary controls.”
Now, a similar situation has been observed again, but with the citrus coming from Egypt. “The most affected in terms of prices by the entry of products from Egypt were late citrus fruit varieties, such as Navelate or Valencia Late oranges, which suffered sharp price drops,” said Mampel. To be precise, “the price of these varieties fell by 50 percent.”
Moreover, as stressed by the head of La Unió in Castellon, “there is no trade agreement with Egypt, unlike in the case of South Africa and other countries.”
According to Mampel, “all citrus imports entail risks when it comes to the possible presence of pests and bacteria. For example, in South Africa, there is a huge problem with Black Spot, while in areas here, in Brazil and in the US, greening causes a bigger impact. If this is not brought under control, the consequences can be disastrous for everyone,” stated Mampel.
In short, Mampel lamented that “the profitability of the most popular citrus variety in Castellon, the Clemenules, has fallen sharply. We have given the Clemenules away to the world. Now, it is already produced in other countries and a lot of citrus comes from Morocco, Egypt or Turkey, which takes a toll on the producers here,” said Mampel.
The head of the professional agricultural organization in Castellon said that, as a result, “many producers in the province have already destroyed their Clemenule plantations.”
Although there are no official data on the number of hectares destroyed, Mampel said that “there are producers who have abandoned the production of Clemenules and destroyed their plantations, because they believe that it is a product that is no longer profitable.”
Consequently, “those same producers are betting on the production of citrus fruit varieties that are perceived as more profitable, such as the Orri, Nadorcott or Tango, among others.” The problem is that the whole issue is still being studied, as it is necessary to find out how to produce the fruit, or which market niches could absorb these more profitable varieties,” said Mampel, who also pointed out that “moreover, the producers must make an investment if they want to produce these varieties; they have to pay royalties. “A royalty is the payment that is made to the owner of copyrights, patents or trademarks in exchange for the right to use or exploit the products protected by them.