Pests, Green Deal and "brexit", the future challenges of the sector

Spanish kaki campaign kicks off with good prices in first contracts

The new kaki season has started in Spain with the prospect of a lower production and better prices, although also awaiting decisions from the European Union that could determine its future, namely regarding the negotiations with the United Kingdom and the growing rejection of the use of phytosanitary products in a time when pests represent a major challenge for this crop.

In the last decade, Spain has expanded the acreage devoted to kakis from 5,827 to 18,057 hectares, according to the results of the Survey on areas and crop yields (Esyrce) for 2010 and 2019 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAP).

After the record campaign of 2019, when more than 400,000 tons were produced, this year's production is expected to fall due to both the excess moisture caused by the spring rains in Valencia and to the appearance of pests such as cotonet or Mycosphaerella. For this season, the agricultural association Unió de Llauradors has estimated Valencia's total production at 315,000 tons, while the agricultural association AVA-Asaja and the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Kaki de la Ribera del Xúquer expect it to fall below 300,000 tons.

In the first sales contracts, prices stand above the production costs and range between 25 and 32 cents per kilo.

The president of the PDO Kaki de la Ribera del Xúquer, Cirilo Arnandis, said to Efeagro that he believes that "kakis are still a product with a great future, but which will have to adapt to the circumstances," including a Green Deal and the proposal for a 50% cut in the use of phytosanitary products by 2030. "Moving towards a greener Europe is fine, but always as long as no phytosanitary products are banned before we have an effective replacement," he said.

Along the same lines, the vice president of Asaja in the Region of Valencia, Bernardo Ferrer, acknowledged that in a few years, the cultivation of this fruit may become "unviable, because the weather is changing" and "there is a lack of solutions to pest problems."

"It all depends on Brussels and the MAPA's will. In fact, we have asked the Ministry to request an exception from the Commission, as the Government of Italy has already done, to be able to continue using the active substance methyl chlorpyrifos after its ban this season."

Ferrer has also shown his concern about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, because the British market is one of the main destinations for Spanish kakis, along with Germany and France.



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