ASAJA Alicante has warned of the serious crisis that is affecting Fino lemon farmers in the province of Alicante, who are facing millions in losses that have yet to be quantified.
"The campaign began to slow down in mid-November 2020, when the restrictions and confinements to try to contain the advance of the pandemic started. It seemed that operations had reactivated after the passage of storm Filomena and the cold arrived. However, this only lasted a few days. In mid-January, the HORECA sector was closed in many parts of Spain and Europe, and the sale and purchase operations of the Fino variety were practically paralyzed. The few operations there have been were carried out with contracts below production costs, thereby violating the Food Chain Law," the organization stated.
"We are facing a ruinous campaign for two reasons. On the one hand, the closure of the HORECA sector since mid-January has meant that there is practically no demand for citrus fruit, as bars, restaurants, and hotels account for 40% of the demand. On the other hand, the supervening formula - which was generally used during this campaign- of carrying out fresh sale contracts at an uncertain price and based on reference prices published by the Precio Periodico, the newspaper with maximum circulation in Murcia, is hurting farmers. Prices are below production costs as they are based on information from the Murcia Ministry of Agriculture and the Interprofessional Association of Lemon and Grapefruit (AILIMPO)," stated the vice president of ASAJA Alicante, Jose Vicente Andreu.
Thus, the organization asks the Ministry of Murcia not to continue with this practice of publishing prices that are below production costs, as selling at a loss is prohibited by law.
"The lemon campaign has been devastating and the lemon fields in the Vega Baja region offer a daunting scenario. Farmers are plucking the fruit and throwing it to the ground because it's not worth selling it and they need to remove the citrus from the tree so that it can sprout for the next harvest," ASAJA Alicante stated.
The organization demands that the Government of the Valencian Community, which approved aid for the restaurant sector after its closure, also approves direct aid or compensation via tax benefits for the sectors that are affected by this same reason.