A few weeks before the most intense period of the citrus season starts, the first deals achieved between farmers and businesses show that mandarin prices are somewhat lower than in the previous season. It's not a bad year, far from it, it's just that producers have been demanding fair prices for years. And, although the new varieties grown in this area are subject to royalties, the increase in the fraud and varietal piracy cases has led several large companies in the sector to develop a tool that allows identifying with exactitude, through molecular markers, the different varieties.
The Professional Association of Fruit Exporters (Asociex) is participating in this project, which is called Go Citrus, through its Citizen Research of Castellon company (ICCSA), which is in charge of developing new varieties. Other large private companies from the citrus world support this project directly, such as Anecoop or Eurosemillas, through alliances, as in the case of GCM, formed by Vicente Giner (from Beniarjo), Cañamas Hermanos (Oliva and l'Alcudia) and Martinavarro (Almassora), or through subsidiaries, such as the Genesis Innovation Group, of the Murcia group AMC, and the Institut Valencia d'Investigacions Agraries.
According to sources from these companies, there have been certain cases of fraud detected in the last few years both in the Castellon area and in Spain as a whole. The fraud consists of the planting and commercialization of varieties protected by royalties, such as Orri, Tango or Nadorcott, which achieve better prices in the market than the traditional mandarins.
So far, the fight against varietal piracy has been mainly taking place in the fields and in the handling centers, through labeling systems and varietal identification of the lots. However, the new system will allow increasing controls at the points of sale and will speed up obtaining results, because it will be possible to determine with total accuracy the variety of an orange or mandarin in just 48 hours.
The technical director of ICCSA, Juan Carlos Claramonte, said that, despite the expansion of protected varieties, "we didn't have a clear identification mechanism to defend the rights of farmers who pay royalties; thus, in case of conflict, there could always be unresolved doubts."
Claramonte said that Go Citrus will allow them to create a database that will serve to combat fraud and defend consumers. "It will be easy to detect which products are advertised as containing protected varieties or a seal of quality -such as the clemenules- but contain other citrus fruits," he said.