Dr Francesco Perri is an agronomist and a citrus specialist. He shared with FreshPlaza his thoughts on the situation of the common Clementine production and marketing, “In my thirty years’ experience, the 2018 clementine campaign has been the worst ever, in the main producing regions”.
According to the expert, the current situation is catastrophic because of different factors, “It is as if all the chickens have come home to roost at the same moment: a very large production, unusual climatic conditions, disorganisation of the marketing offer while the demand is increasingly structured and exacting”.
The result is that a lot of clementines are still on trees. In some fields, the harvesting did not even commence and probably it never will.
It is difficult to estimate the overall wasted harvest, but it would not be excessive to quantify it around 40-50% of produce still on plants. In addition, the common Clementine is an early fruit and its harvesting should not be much prolonged, otherwise, the quality would decrease considerably. Therefore, these fruits will hardly be harvested now.
“We cannot force things with this variety as we please. It is possible to prolong the clementine campaign through an accurate varietal diversification that would make the seasonal schedule longer. Last year’s campaign went fine after all only because the starting production was lower. Without a serious reorganisation of the productive and commercial aspects, we cannot think of doing business in this sector”.
According to Perri, in order to face this crisis, it is necessary to have: patience, determination and “a ‘fast-paced’ brain”, that is, very accurate reasoning on how to keep doing business in the future, “otherwise, we will not have one”, he warns.
According to the expert, it is crucial to understand how to substitute part of the common Clementine in different territories – through the support of the best expertise available. “We need a task force of experts and to invest in the training of specialist technicians able to guide agricultural entrepreneurs, who today are more lost than ever. In Italy, unfortunately, we cannot count on large surfaces like Spain, therefore it would not make sense to change the citrus fruit to different productions. It is important to invest in the diversification of the varietal calendar in order to have the right produce available, in its ideal condition in every seasonal phase. Then, it will be necessary to reorganise the entire marketing phase. The supplies of clementine on the markets should be regulated thus preventing the produce from coming all at once! Today more than ever, the Producer Organisations are asked to play a key role: that of guiding their associates towards those changes which should have been already implemented a while ago!”.
The expert does not hide his biggest concern, “I fear that everything will be over in a few weeks. There will be the fortunate ones who could harvest all the crops, others who did not perform that good, and other ones who could not even take part in the game. We run the risk to forget all of this and to find ourselves in this situation again within one year. I do not think we can go on like this. If someone had other suggestions or alternative solutions, we would like to hear from them”.