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The black spot plague advances in the tomato crops of the Canarian municipality of La Aldea

Mildew is wreaking havoc on the tomato production of La Aldea. According to Marcelo Rodriguez, a technician of the Coagrisan cooperative, the largest tomato producer in the Canary Islands that groups tomato growers of this municipality, the pest has gone from affecting 16 hectares to nearly 30 hectares.

As a result of the pest, producers won't be able to market a significant part of the production In addition, Agroseguro does not cover this contingency. The insurance company compensates for damages caused by certain viruses, such as the tomato yellow leaf curl virus, or due to snowfall, frost, hail, or wind; but not the damage caused by the black spot. In turn, Canarian producers maintain this is a direct consequence of the high humidity and low temperatures associated with the Filomena storm.

Producers in La Aldea have already started to uproot the plants. Francisco Llarena Months, a producer from the region, said he lost a large investment and 120,000-130,000 kilos of the 200,000-220,000 kilos that he usually harvests. "We were beginning to collect the tomatoes; this plant usually has its strongest production in the most recent months. It's not just that I ran out of income, I also continued having expenses." Francisco will have to lay off his three employees and said he'll have no income until August 2022. Only then, will he be able to close accounts with the cooperative.

Víctor Martin, a producer in the same area, is waiting for Agroseguro's visit. "We have been paying them for 20 years and now that we need them they tell us that this is not in the contract," he complained. "We feel helpless."

Two of his 4 farms, of 10,000 m² each, are affected; that means he's lost 50% of his harvest, which translates into 400,000 kilos of tomatoes. "I've had to take out two loans, one to cover losses and another to uproot all these plants." Víctor believes that under these conditions no bank will entrust him with money for another upcoming campaign. According to his estimates, he has lost 75,000 euro per plot. In addition, he'll have to lay off 12 employees.

On Monday, Marcelo Rodriguez and Roberto Suarez, Coagrisan technicians, continued to receive reports of more damage. The president of Coagrisan, Juan Jose del Pino, will have to uproot 25,000 m² of tomato plants, i.e. 50% of their production.



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