Spain: Sector unity under threat in Canary banana sector

Last Friday, the professional organization COAG-Canarias was said to be very concerned about the situation currently affecting the banana sector in the islands, which is the most important agricultural activity in the archipelago. At the moment, they are facing difficulties to sell the fruit in the Peninsula and, therefore, are frequently forced to withdraw tonnes of bananas in months that traditionally have been the most propitious ones and with the highest prices. In 2017, Canary banana growers have reused or withdrawn more than 15 million kilos, with no more than 3 million having gone to Food Banks as of 13 December, according to Asprocan.

This agricultural entity said that the sector is currently living "a situation of uncertainty and internal struggles that are already having a negative impact on producers," and added, as stated in a press release, that "things could still get worse if no decisions are made keeping the needs of all growers in mind."

According to COAG-Canarias, "The banana sector has remained united over the years and this has helped it consolidate a strong position and good reputation in the market, achieving also stability in the support frameworks. All this has made it possible to keep the production stable over the years and to sell practically all of the supply in the Peninsula, which has been a key factor.

However, as warned by COAG, following ".. the decisions to withdraw thousands of tonnes from the market in recent weeks (since mid-November), decisions have been made by different marketing entities that threaten the unity of action." This refers to the fact that two organizations of banana producers (PO's), Europlátano and Llanos de Sardina, have abandoned Asprocan.

Bearing in mind this scenario of disunity, COAG-Canarias "... wished to express its concern about the situation. For this reason, it has urged those entities to look at the big picture. "The wars between PO's to lure producers to abandon one for another or the adoption of short-term marketing decisions, which in the medium and long term could be a heavy burden for all producers, should be avoided.

The same organization also stated that "it would be desirable to move forward in aspects such as the planning of the production and the harmonization of the category selection standards of different entities, aiming for unity in the production and marketing, and resorting to market withdrawals in an efficient manner whenever necessary, although with a medium and long-term strategy to reduce their application."

COAG-Canarias also highlighted the relevance of the mediation work carried out by the Government of the Canary Islands through the Council of Agriculture. The rebellious OP's and the Deputy Councillor of the Primary Sector, Abel Morales, held a long meeting on Thursday with the aim of bringing these entities back to Asprocan. For now, this has not been achieved, especially because the conditions set by these two PO's to return to the group are not acceptable for the four entities that have not abandoned it: Coplaca, Cupalma, Plataneros de Canarias and Agriten.

If there is no return to a united sector; that is, to an Asprocan with six entities instead of the current four, the president of the Canary Islands warned that he did not rule out changing the decree that regulates the conditions for the constitution of PO's in order to raise the necessary production volume threshold to 100 million kilos, which would result in Asprocan being left with two or three PO's at most, instead of the current six (the current threshold is 30 million kilos).


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