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Spain: Valencian citrus still losing ground to kakis

Valencia's most important, emblematic and traditional crops continue losing ground as a direct result of lack of profitability, as denounced by the Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-ASAJA). This has been determined after analysing the latest official survey data on acreage and yields (ESYRCE) prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The study concludes that, in 2015, Valencia lost a total of 3,136 hectares of citrus plantations, representing a decrease of 2% compared to the previous year, while the decline in the amount of land devoted to vineyards in the Valencian region reached 3.35%, with a total loss of 2,386 hectares.

The report from the Ministry of Agriculture also confirms the boom experienced in the cultivation of kakis, whose expansion has amounted to 2,796 new hectares; an increase of 23.57% compared to the previous year. It is precisely this remarkable growth which has partly offset the overall 0.22% fall in the total acreage devoted to agriculture in Valencia in 2015. Other crops on the rise, although to a much lower extent, are pomegranates and avocados.

"The bad trend continues," laments the president of AVA-ASAJA, Cristóbal Aguado, "and the slight recovery in the acreage we saw last year, of 2.11%, was only a mirage. The figures don't lie; the lack of profitability suffered by citrus producers is forcing them to throw in the towel, because they cannot accumulate losses indefinitely. Abandoned farmland in Valencia now amounts to over 164,000 hectares and that is outrageous and intolerable."

The head of this agricultural organization believes that the latest ESYRCE survey "not only exposes the gravity of the situation, but is a call to the administrations, and especially to the Regional Administration, the Council of Agriculture, to immediately take action on the matter."

In this sense, Aguado reminds that AVA-ASAJA has already told Councillor Elena Cebrián about "the urgent need to draw a roadmap for agriculture in Valencia with the consensus of agricultural organizations and major political parties.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture reveals that while the acreage devoted to cultivation fell in Valencia, in Spain as a whole it registered an increase of 1.95% after 21,061 hectares were recovered for farming. As for citrus, while the Valencian citrus sector lost 3,136 hectares in 2015, as already mentioned, its main competitor, Andalusian citrus, gained 1,719 hectares for the cultivation of oranges and mandarins, 2.28% more than in the previous year. Yet, despite the gradual decline suffered year after year, Valencia still accounts for 54% of Spain's total citrus acreage.



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