The Canary Islands produce and export bananas, the world's most demanded fruit, and tomatoes, the most popular vegetable in Europe. However, despite the success of both products, the activity on the islands would not be profitable if they didn't count on the EU community's economic support for marketing and transport.
The Canary tomato sector is in a deep crisis. The islands went from producing 352,000 tons in 2000 to no more than 63,000 tons in 2015. There used to be 956 producers and 75 companies that generated 25,000 direct and indirect jobs, with 3,400 hectares dedicated to tomato cultivation; but now there are only 320 producers, 15 companies and 10,000 jobs, with 720 hectares of cultivation.
The vice president of the Canarian Government and Minister of Finance, Budgets, and European Affairs, Roman Rodríguez, is confident in the recomposition of the aid that the Canarian fruit and vegetable sector was receiving for its exports of tomato and cucumber to the United Kingdom, an important destination for Canarian tomato that would become a third country after the Brexit, although it opted for a reconversion of it in the medium and long term.
Rodriguez, who met this week with the board of the Provincial Federation of Associations of Fruit and Vegetable Product Exporters of Las Palmas (Fedex), recalled that Agriculture, the competent body in this issue, will have the support of his department to convince the Government of Spain to press the EU so that the sector can continue to receive aid for exports to the United Kingdom.
The leader of Nueva Canarias said the amount demanded is not relevant in budgetary terms, since it amounts to about 8 million euro per year between transport subsidies and aid for marketing and production, but that it is essential that the European Union authorizes those support lines. "We cannot do anything if we have a financial statement but don't have the authorization of the Commission," he said.
Rodriguez stressed that transportation and marketing aid outside the Canary Islands "theoretically declines", while production aid "is unclear." The goal now is recomposing these aids in another package that gives them the same amount of money. However, it is necessary to have the corresponding authorization from the Commission to do this, as these are commercial transactions with a non-EU country.