The overlapping of Quindio's and Cundinamarca's mandarin harvests due to climatic factors has generated an oversupply in the market and a drastic drop in prices, which do not exceed production costs. As a result of this drop in profitability, many producers have chosen not to harvest the fruit.
“Nobody can work at a loss and it is very painful to lose a whole year of work in 2 months. We can't even harvest them to donate them to the people who need them,” said Carlos Arturo Arias, a mandarin producer from La Tebaida. The production cost of a kilo of mandarins is $ 500, but producers are currently being paid less than $ 200 per kilo, he said. If a producer decided to give it away, he would have to pay $ 100 to $ 150 just to harvest them, plus the freight value.
A difficult time
Silvia Lizethe Arbelaez Giraldo, the president of the National Federation of Citrus Growers, spoke to La Crónica about the difficult situation that mandarin producers are currently experiencing. "Citrus growers are going through a difficult time for the production and marketing of the product. Basically, there is a weakness in demand due to the pandemic and the high harvest peak in all the mandarin crops in the area. So there's an oversupply that we can't sell.”
She also said they hadn't received any support from the national or departmental government to create new marketing mechanisms. "We are in a pandemic, children are not studying, there are consumption restrictions, and there are no alternatives to market the fruit in the area or for the industry."
The president of the National Federation of Citrus growers said that if they didn't take immediate measures, they would have to throw away their production in 2 or 3 weeks after the harvest peaked. "Leaving it in the trees can generate a very serious phytosanitary problem," she stressed.
In Quindío there are approximately 6,200 hectares of citrus fruits - orange, mandarin, and lemon - nearly 30% of it is of 2 varieties of mandarin. This situation is also affecting the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, and southern Antioquia.