Chilean berries affects producers in Andean Region
In this context, "we discussed the sector's common concern about their inability to market the stock of berries from last season's harvest that is stored in cold chambers because of the imports of fruit from the neighboring country of Chile," said Javier Mariño, one of the technicians consulted.
"It is an important issue that must be worked on in the short term, because it is an activity that moves the regional economy", he added. "Chile is one of the largest producers of berries (they have almost 14,000 hectares in production).
"The volume entering our country has different qualities, but the block used for industry can be different to the Argentinean fruit by 30 or 40%," he said.
According to data from Inta, the harvesting of the Andean region fluctuates between 800 and 1,000 tons a year, which are sold in the domestic market, and more than 65% is destined to the industry in the area, as there are about 25 candy industries in the region.
This year, exports were practically nil because "They tried to lower the agreed price from 5.20 dollars to 4 dollars when we were closing the business," he said.
There are 250 planted hectares, divided into small farms at El Bolson, Lago Puelo, El Hoyo, and Epuyen, which account for approximately 70 million pesos. On average, each hectare produces about 7,000 kilos and the unit price is 65 pesos per kilo of fresh fruit.
The main acreage is dedicated to raspberries, followed by strawberries, cherries, currants, cherries, boysemberries, blackberries, currants, cassis, and blueberries. The rosehip, elderberry and maqui varieties stand out among the wild varieties.
Other variables, such as the "stagnating sales prices compared to last year and the increase in production costs (gas, energy, fuel and other basic supplies) make it impossible to make accurate estimates and projections. The situation is difficult and uncertain," said the farmers.
However, they said that sales of fresh products in the market and touristic sections had met expectations and that it had allowed them to have enough income to keep believing in their activity, which occupies about 400 growers per season.
One of the direct actions to be implemented in the immediate future, they stated, is "searching for new markets, demanding that Chilean imports of fresh fruit be taxed, and the joint purchase of basic inputs, among other things. ■