The latest ongoing negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the next seven years will be crucial to maintain the Canary Islands' banana production, an activity that provides a livelihood to 15,000 families throughout the archipelago.
The European Commission has proposed cutting the money allocated to POSEI, a program aimed at supporting agricultural productions in the outermost regions of the EU, such as the Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Azores, and Madeira, among others, by 3.9%. This means that banana producers in the Canary Islands would stop receiving 10 million euro a year between 2021 and 2027.
“The proposal is a 4% cut from the previous seven years. We account for 0.01% of all the CAP. Meanwhile, Spain will receive 47,000 million in the same period. It's a very small amount, but it means everything for us,” stated Sergio Caceres, the manager of the Asprocan business association.
“The Canary Islands are in a single market and we submit to community regulations, but we are thousands of kilometers away. This support program arose to provide aid to compensate producers for the extra production costs derived from remoteness and insularity,” he said.
The producers also stated that the European authorities had benefited the entry of bananas into the European market with the signing of free trade agreements that have lowered tariffs on banana imports. “The EU has promoted the importation of bananas from third countries. The market has benefited from the more than 50% tariff reduction on bananas in the last seven years. As a result, the producers' income has decreased. We participate in the same market, but the hand we're dealt with is totally different,” Caceres said.
The aid from this support program is distributed among 8,000 producers, who, in many cases, are small family businesses. “Producer's income is made up of what they make in the market and by these direct aids. The aid can account for 35% to 40% of their income,” Caceres said.
Producers have warned that many companies would be forced to close if an agreement to maintain these aid is not reached. “That would lead to a progressive disappearance of small producers. If a product can't be supplied to the market, it starts to disappear from the shelves. That's what we're trying to prevent,” Caceres said.