According to the data provided by Asaja Almeria, the Andalusian province has lost 16% of the surface destined to the production of tomatoes in greenhouses in the last 9 years, which corresponds to almost 2,000 hectares.
In a statement, the agrarian organization assured that the lack of profitability of this crop and the impossibility of facing competition from Third Countries, especially Morocco, has made it very difficult for these farmers to continue producing this product, as its production cost has increased by 13% in that period. "This has happened even though it is a protected product in the trade agreement between the European Union and that country," Asaja Almeria stated.
Nine years ago the European Union ratified, with the opposition of the sector, the trade agreement with Morocco. "At the time, Asaja warned of the consequences and losses that the agreement was going to generate. Back then, there were already constant complaints of possible fraud, lack of control in tariffs, quotas exceeded, etc. Unfortunately, things haven't changed since then," they stated.
"Farmers feel completely helpless against this and all the rest of the trade agreements because Europe still doesn't want to hear us," stated the president of Asaja Almeria, Antonio Navarro.
The area lost isn't only limited to greenhouses; its cultivation has been lost almost completely outdoors in the Levant, the organization stated. "The smaller tomato surface entails an increase in other productions, such as peppers, zucchini, or cucumbers, which has caused a mismatch in the supply, so this agreement may have new victims."
Review of trade agreements
As the organization points out, in this period Almeria has lost a large part of its position in the tomato market. "The agreement is profitable for Morocco because they already make a profit with an entry price of 0.46; a price that doesn't even cover production costs in Almeria," the agrarian organization stated. "Trade agreements should be adapted to European production costs, it's the only way we could help solve this issue," he added.
In addition, Asaja has stated that, since the United Kingdom has its own agreement with Morocco, the current agreement between the EU and Morocco should be reviewed in terms of quotas and entry prices, adapting it to the real situation, making differentiations with specialties such as cherry tomato. "The board has changed, therefore, the rules of the game must also change. That's why we call on the Ministry of Agriculture and the Spanish MEPs to promote the revision of this Agreement."