Argentina: Precipitous drop in mandarin sales

According to the export records of Argentina's Citrus Federation, there's been a precipitous drop in mandarin sales. Up until March 20, 2016, Argentina had shipped 786 pallets, i.e. 335.37% less than the 3,422 pallets sold in the same period of 2015.

"We are facing a desperate and unfortunate situation because we have the product, we have the markets, but we can not export the fruit because we have no working capital," said Mariano Caprarulo, executive director of the Chamber of Citrus Exporters of Nea, in dialogue with Oid Mortales Radio.

Caprarulo appreciated the measures taken by the national government, such as the adjustment of the exchange rate, the release of stocks, withholding, and the opening of new markets, among others, but clarified that these decisions would have a positive impact in the medium and long term. Meanwhile the citrus sector needs urgent financial support. Otherwise, it won't be able to harvest the fruit.

According to the director of the CECNEA, the companies in the sector have not been able to benefit from the adjustment in the exchange rate, but have been affected by it. "They are unable to export a box of fruits because they have very poor ratings with the banks. They can not get any funding because of the 5 bad years they experienced. They have debts in dollars, which used to cost 8.90, but today they have to pay it at 15 and they don't have anything stockpiled," he said.

"The industry doesn't have the reserves or working capital needed to export and to wait to collect," he said. "If you send something now, you'll be paid within 3 or 4 months," he remarked. "Producers just don't have the money to start working normally, without any ambition: just to maintain the 4 to 5 million cases exported last year," he said.

There is dialogue, but there's a lack of executive action
Mariano Caprarulo stated that the national government had good intentions and that they could dialogue with the government. However, he said, the government isn't very dynamic. 

"The provincial government, both the governor and his team have moved to explain the situation. They have accompanied us and given us all the official numbers and explained what citrus exports, with its thousands of employees registered, mean at the regional. They explained everything, but they haven't taken any executive measures. Perhaps they do not understand the dynamics of citrus, perhaps they think producers can graduate crops and that's just not how it works," said the head of the CECNEA. 

"The Ministry of Agriculture has said they would act, because they saw the numbers and know what we generate. But the fact is that the days continue to pass and the people are getting more and more nervous. If there is no help, it will be chaos. Nobody wants to get there, not the government of the province that is helping us nor the national government. But they must take executive action," he reiterated.

"We are not asking for something extraordinary"
The Chamber of Citrus Exporters of NEA expects the national government to react before it is too late and takes interim measures so that the long-term policies, such as the opening of the US, the release of the stocks, and a lot of important decisions to be more competitive can become a reality.

"We need support to harvest and to export and we will have to pay it back", Caprarulo admits. "This support is so that our people, our suppliers, and the entire export chain can work and so the domestic market isn't saturated."

According to Caprarulo, the sector is currently at "a dead end. Since our ratings at the banks are bad, we have no way to pre finance and qualify for the credits that the government wants to implement to help the regional economies."

He also took the opportunity to clarify that the policies adopted so far to assist the productive activities of the interior have only been useful for those who had collected nonperishable products: "The government hasn't taken any action for the real regional economies, such as fruit, pear, apple, and citrus, that require a lot of intensive labor and have a huge tax burden. The measures taken benefit the people who had stockpiled grains that are not perishable, which they could sell with greater benefits. That's ok, but we have nothing. "

Source: Oíd Mortales Radio

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