The price of the melon in origin at Montalban, Cordoba, fell from 0.80 euro at the end of June to 0.26/0.28 euro on July 9. This is below production costs, which now stand at 30 cents because of inflation and the speculation of intermediaries, according to different agricultural organizations and farmers, such as Antonio Marquez.
Marquez said the collapse in prices was caused, among other things, by the overlap of the Cordovan harvest with the harvest of Almeria and Seville (two main producers in Andalusia) and, to a lesser extent, that of Castilla La-Mancha.
Another issue that complicates this campaign is the increase in production costs. Fertilizer alone has gone from 40 cents per kilo last year to 1.60 euro per kilo now, Marquez said. In addition, producers also have to deal with water restrictions and the increase in water prices. The cubic meter has risen from 4 to 12 cents in a year in the community of irrigators of Puente Genil, he said.
This is also due to large retailers that, through intermediaries, set the prices they want, Marquez stated.
Carmen Quintero, the general secretary of COAG in Cordoba, said that buyers agree on a maximum price and tell producers they won't buy anything above that price. Faced with this in the middle of the harvest, farmers are almost without options. Thus, Quintero calls for a redoubling of inspections, with more officials investigating the food chain.
As a solution, both for consumers and farmers, producers sell their products to consumers directly in the field. "It is another option to avoid intermediaries and to cover production costs," Carmen Quintero stated. However, not everyone has the opportunity to make direct sales. Small area producers that don't depend on a large harvest usually carry out direct sales. "Many producers would rather make direct sales because it's the fairest form of sales, the best economical option for them, and because they wouldn't be subject to what an intermediary wants to pay them, stated the secretary of COAG in Cordoba.