Entre Rios citrus growers are currently being paid a significantly lower price for their fruit than last season, despite inflation and increased costs. “We are being paid almost half of what we were paid last year, when we had a low production due to climatic factors. Last year, each producer was paid 12 to 25 pesos per kilo of fruit, depending on the orange or mandarin variety. This year, however, we only charge 8 or 10 pesos per kilo,” stated Fernando Borgo, a producer and leader of the Citrus Federation of this Argentine province (Fecier).
According to Fecier, this situation is a consequence of the accumulation of different factors that have been distorting the activity for a long time -such as taxes-, but particularly, due to an increase in production this season while the internal and external demand remained unchanged.
According to estimates from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) of Concordia, in 2020 Entre Rios citrus production decreased by more than 22% over the 2019 season. It was worse in oranges than in mandarins: the orange harvest dropped from 378,315 tons in 2019, to 302,652 last year; in mandarins, it decreased from 161,629 to 113,140 tons
According to forecasts, this season the production will recover by 25% on average compared to 2020; however, Borgo stated, his plantations have up to 40% more fruit than last year. “There are varieties that will remain in the plants, such as Novas, among other early or mid-season varieties. This will happen because the industry did not want them anymore and the domestic market does not absorb them either,” he stated. The industry is currently paying producers 4 to 5 pesos per kilo.
The export markets haven't changed, but their periods are from March to September, so they are not a good option to locate a production surplus in them. "We could try to strengthen sales to Brazil, but it is very complex due to the revenue parameters," he said. As a result of this situation, he said, there are no strategic changes to prop up and improve the course of the regional economy.