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Spain: UAGA predicts a 20% drop in orchards harvest

This year, there are expectations of approximately the same harvest for peach and nectarine, apricot and pear, as last year. For cherry there is an expected drop of 40%, the same goes for apples.

UAGA predicts an average drop of 20% in the fruit harvest campaign in Aragón, due to Winter and Spring weather conditions and the effects of hail, that affected the whole community territory.

Vicente López, responsible for the fruit and vegetable sector at UAGA, spoke at a press conference about predictions for the fruit campaign in Aragón, where production may drop between 20% and 50%.

The dry Winter, the hail and Spring frosts all caused a problem for fruits, particularly cherries, pointing to a delay of between 10 and 12 days to the beginning of harvest.

The total production of fruits in Aragón in 2011 was of 526,000 tons (309,000 of peach and nectarine, 29,000 of cherry, 63,000 of pears, 81,000 of apple, 9,000 of apricot and 7,800 of plum).

This year, peach and nectarine, apricot and pears are expected to have the same results, while for cherry a 40% reduction is predicted, the same reduction that can be expected for the apple production.

As sale predictions are not bad and the prices at the moment, especially for peach and nectarine, are good,  export predictions are good, after two bad years, according to Vicente López.

In the two previous seasons, he added, there were many producers that had to sell their harvests by 30 or 40% less than the production value.

In fact, 2011 was "catastrophic" regarding prices, due also to the E.coli burst, that caused products to sell less, so less fluidity, and many tons to be destroyed.

UAGA underlines the socio-economic importance of the sector, that reached a final production of 280 million Euro in 2011, some 8.55% of the total value of the agricultural production.

In this context, agriculture is the sector with least unemployment (5.02%), despite a raise registered between 2007 and 2011 due to the general crisis. In 2011, though, there was a raise of 5.4% in the admissions in the Social Security.

In 2012 there will be less hiring, about 20% less, in the fruit harvest, but contracts previous to the harvest can be raised due to weather condition, that make it necessary to have more working hands for other tasks, like separation of damaged fruit.

What was detected, according to López, is that this year there's more Spanish workers looking for employment, despite 80% of the people employed in the harvest campaigns being foreigners.

In the face of the campaign start, UAGA insists on the fact that the majority of farmers plan the hiring of the needed working hands and López assures that problems with the mixing of people or bad conditions for workers are almost nonexistent.

They keep reminding workers that they shouldn't move to another work without a contract and that they can use the jobs list at INAEM or in UAGA.

Source: Heraldo

Publication date: 5/17/2012


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