Isla Cristina has hosted the 4th Meeting of Citrus Producers of the province of Huelva, whose objective has been to address current issues related to the citrus sector. As highlighted in his presentation by the deputy of Territorio Inteligente, Salvador Gomez, the citrus sector is increasingly playing a bigger role in the province and in the economy of Huelva, the second most important Andalusian province in terms of citrus production, only behind Seville, with almost 19,000 hectares and a production totaling about 500,000 tons which is worth approximately 400 million Euro.
During the day there were three presentations. The first one dealt with ‘Producer organizations (maximizing advantages for producers)’ and was given by agronomist José Miguel Ferrer Arranz. According to Ferrer, it is necessary to make some "tweaks" in the regulations that regulate Fruit and Vegetable PO's, so that these organizations can be attractive to growers and producers, especially since it has been found that "PO's do not yield better results than other commercial alternatives, and that active aid from the EU Operational Programs is not significant, since they do not reach 5%."
For her part, the general director of the Citrus Management Committee, Inmaculada Sanfeliú Felui, gave a presentation entitled 'Future challenges for the Spanish citrus sector', in which she highlighted that one of the most important handicaps that the Spanish citrus sector has is the high salaries. "They are among the highest in the world (13 Euro per hour), while Egyptians pay 5 Euro / day." She also acknowledged that climate change is causing the marketing periods to be shortened, and that the supply has therefore increased. Lastly, she mentioned how tremendously necessary it is "for fruit to have a fixed price at origin."
The head of the Citrus Management Committee said to be convinced that "there is still room in the market for mandarins" and added that in order to compete against the citrus supply from third countries that is coming to the EU, and which is causing some overlap in the markets, it is necessary to "open new markets, offering quality citrus in the second part of the campaign, to increase the sale of fresh quality juices, and to request the application of more phytosanitary controls and the mandatory cold treatments with the idea of protecting the health of Spanish citrus fruits."
Lastly, Francisco Llaster Brau, technical director of the Agrupación de Viveristas de Agrios (AVASA), gave a presentation focused on new varietal alternatives for citrus farming in Huelva. After reporting that 90% of the varieties that the citrus sector will use in the near future will be protected, Llaster stressed that the best that the growers can do to remain competitive is to bet on innovation, technology and new varieties.
In this regard, he presented the characteristics of the new varieties obtained by AVASA, such as the Murina, Mandanova and Andes 1, as well as of those from the triploid hybrid program, carried out together with the IVIA. He reported good results in the tastings of the following varieties (all of which are resistant to the alternaria): Tania (P) 46, 47, 48 and 49 (P), and Pri-57, 87 and 88.