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Spain's worst lemon campaign so far has already left more than 120 million euros in losses

COAG has issued an alert about Spain's lemon-producing sector's critical situation. The current lemon campaign is the most unfavorable one in terms of profitability recorded so far, with prices that do not cover production costs for most producers, causing serious economic losses in the main cultivation areas, and even the abandonment of farms and the uprooting of trees.

Pedro Gomáriz, head of COAG'S citrus sector, spoke about the terrible reality of producers: "Citrus growers invested their money to produce lemons this year and now, to our misfortune, we're assuming the cost of throwing the lemons to the ground, without any income. In short, we are spending around 30 cents/kg of lemon to get nothing in return. Producers were paid low prices for the product sold, and 400,000 tons of fruit remained in the fields. This fruit wasn't sold and accounts for more than 120 million euros in losses."

This has happened because of a highly speculative market and the transition to a more integrated and less social citrus farming model. The increase in imports that saturate European markets, climate change, diseases and pests (some of which arrived with imports), and the increase in the area in recent years have contributed to this serious situation. According to Spain's Survey on Crop Surfaces and Yields, the area of irrigated lemon trees has increased by 51% (+16,800 ha).

COAG urges the adoption of urgent and structural measures to address and reverse the current situation. It also emphasizes the need to plan for future campaigns and the sector's sustainable development in the medium and long term. The organization has requested an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (MAPA) to discuss proposals and to understand the Ministry's perspectives and possible actions to face the current crisis.

The Region of Murcia has proposed to the Central Administration the implementation of a start-up plan that seeks to rebalance the supply and demand of citrus fruits to deal with excess production. This plan would be a short and medium-term solution that could restore competitiveness to the lemon sector.

Since 2015, the area destined for lemon trees has gone from 38,300 hectares to more than 54,000, which could lead to a production of 1,700,000 tons in two years, compared to a market absorption capacity of only 1,100,000 tons. José Antonio García, director of AILIMPO (the Lemon and Grapefruit Inter-branch Association), stated that they support the measures suggested by the Ministry of Agriculture, such as reducing fiscal modules to increase the competitiveness of small producers and controlling imports.

Source: y

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