A delegation from Asaja's National Garlic Sector, chaired by Miguel del Pino, and from the National Garlic Table, of which Del Pino is vice-president, will meet with leaders of the European Commission and several MEPs in Brussels (Belgium) on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week to ask them, on behalf of the Spanish agricultural sector that they convince the large retailers to pay garlic producers higher prices. The request is also shared by the farmers of France, Italy, and Portugal.
The Spanish and European garlic sectors face the same issues. In their last six-monthly meeting, held this year in Lisbon (Portugal), they forged a common strategy to find a solution to the objective fact, that the prices they are paid don't reflect their production costs, even though their expenses have now grown by 20% to 30% due to the increases in electricity, diesel, fertilizer and pesticide costs.
The issue, as Del Pino has pointed out, is that 90% of the production Spanish and European garlic production ends up in the large retailers, which have not increased the price they pay to farmers. Thus, the sector expects the European Commission can talk to the large areas so that they increase the purchase price. According to them, this could be done because, even if it leads to an increase in the sale prices for consumers, it would barely be noticeable overall.
According to Del Pino, it wouldn't have a big effect on people's economies because the population doesn't consume much garlic. "Consumption in Spain, the country with the biggest consumption, barely reaches 2 kilos per person per year. Increasing the price paid to the farmers will help save a sector that creates a lot of work and helps people settle in the rural area and won't affect consumers in a big way."
The Spanish delegation will also ask Brussels to apply a "moratorium" on the ban on the use of certain pesticides that the sector has been using, as long as other alternative products do not reach the market. Otherwise, they will have to stop sowing garlic, as -for example- they would have to weed the crops by hand, which is impossible to do, because of the ban.
Mr. Del Pino is optimistic about the response they'll get from the EC and MEPs because the agriculture ministries of the four European producer countries have already committed to also raising these demands in Brussels.