According to data from the Conselleria on the agricultural area in Castellon, the province has lost an estimated 10,000 hectares of citrus fruits since 1999.
Based on the surface data recollected between 1983 and 2019, the cultivation of mandarins has gone from 21,147 hectares to 27,421, after decreasing continuously since 2011 after several decades of boom and stabilization.
In that same interval, the area devoted to oranges has gone from 14,787 hectares to 6,388, highlighting the decline of this crop in the province.
The associations blame this phenomenon on the lack of profitability, generational renewal, and lack of varietal reconversion, among other issues. The secretary of La Unió de Llauradors, Carles Peris, said that, if this trend continues, Andalusia could surpass Castellon's production within five or six years. "At the regional level, we produce 3 to 3.8 million tons. But now we are registering a high abandonment, the trees are old and we don't have many conversions. That means that we currently don't have the capacity to increase tonnage," Peris stated.
The sector has debated varietal renewal for many years, but it has not yet been effectively addressed in Castellon, where more than 80% of the production corresponds to the Clemenules variety. Last month, the Minister of Agriculture, Mireia Molla, spoke with the representatives of the citrus sector about the urgent need to develop a new varietal map adapted to the demands of the market, which would serve to incorporate and enhance the most profitable varieties.
2,000 abandoned fields in the Region in just one year
According to AVA-Asaja, more than 2,000 orange groves were uprooted and burned in the Valencian Community last year alone. This sad phenomenon is due to the drop in prices perceived by producers, stated Cristobal Aguado, the president of AVA-Asaja. He also called on the Food Information and Control Agency (AICA) to investigate and impose exemplary sanctions, where appropriate, for the abusive offers that large distribution chains apply to citrus fruits, which lower the farmer's margin.
This campaign, however, Castellon's Clemenules have achieved fair prices, largely due to the increase in demand in the European Union.