On February 14, the desperate situation of many Valencian agricultural producers led to about 300 tractors and more than fifty buses leaving La Ribera bound to the capital to participate in a demonstration convened by the agricultural organizations.
Javier Felip, citrus producer of Algemesí, is one of those affected by the profitability crisis in the sector. He has received only 3 cents per kilo for his production of Okitsu mandarins. "I am not an isolated case; there are many just like me. All early Satsuma producers have received ridiculous prices," said Felip to the newspaper Levante-EMV.
"I have a relatively young field. 22,000 kilos were harvested and I received 800 Euro, once all harvesting and selection costs had been taken into account. The cooperative, which sorts the oranges, said it had 6,000 kilos, so up to 600 Euro were subtracted," he said.
"It is the same for all of us. We don't understand why a fruit that we consider good is discarded. I am convinced that, under any other circumstance, my harvest would have been worth about 6,000 Euro," said the grower.
One step away from giving up
Many producers in the region are likely to identify with what has happened to Javier Felip. Maintaining a field currently costs more than it can yield. According to other producers consulted, those who have received about 8 cents per kilo are privileged ones.
"Fortunately, I have another job, which is the one that supports my family, because I could never make a living from the field," he said, adding that "if we take into account that I paid about 600 Euro in wages for the thinning, as well as 1,000 Euro for irrigation and the two treatments, one for sprouting and another to eliminate pests, I estimate that I will have spent about 2,500 Euro, only to receive 800 Euro afterwards. This generates nothing but losses."
For Felip, the results obtained this campaign are another incentive to give up. "The next step is to uproot the entire field. If every producer who doesn't make a living from agriculture did that, the Valencian economy would suffer a lot, because many families depend on the activity for their survival," said the producer.