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Spain: Valencian potatoes and onions threatened by imports

Staff Writer |
Valencian growers devoted to the cultivation of onions in regions like L'Horta or Camp de Túria are currently suffering a price crisis that is turning the present campaign into a true ruin for their economies.

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The situation has reached such an extreme that many producers of this vegetable are considering the possibility of rotovating their farms; that is, destroying their harvest, because by resorting to such a drastic method the losses would be lower than if they tried to market their productions, as this would at least save the costs of harvesting and transportation.

The fact is that the prices paid in the market do not cover the production costs in any way.

According to the Valencian Association of Farmers (AVA-ASAJA), the price currently offered for a kilo of onions amounts to around 0.12 Euro, when the cost to produce the same kilo reaches 0.22 Euro, which makes it unfeasible for producers to obtain the minimum profitability for their work.

The main cause of this disaster is the increase of onion imports from other countries, mainly Egypt, Israel and Cyprus, but also from more distant places, such as Chile or Peru.

The abundant supply is the ideal pretext used by large distributors to push prices down, so while a couple of weeks ago, when the Valencian onion campaign started, the price at origin reached around 20 cents, in recent months it has sunk to 12 cents and in some areas even down to 8 cents.

Meanwhile, the prospects for Valencian potatoes, while not as bad, are certainly not that great either. Imports, particularly in the case of French potatoes, are also having a very negative impact on the development of prices at origin.

Now, with the potato season only just starting, prices are just below the threshold of profitability, oscillating between 0.35 and 0.40 Euro per kilo, but Valencian growers predict that, in two weeks, and as the productions of other Spanish production areas enter the markets, the pressure on prices will make the situation unsustainable.

They fear that the disaster of the Valencian onion campaign will be repeated with potatoes.

The president of AVA-ASAJA, Cristóbal Aguado, points out that "this situation is unfortunate and is caused by the lack of transparency in the markets and the tolerance of the abuses of large distributors, as well as by the absence of effective measures, such as the establishment of rent insurance and, ultimately, by the incompetence of politicians, who are unable to respond to the sector's needs, as we have just seen in the disastrous tax cut that has been approved by the Government.

"Valencian onion and potato producers are in need of fiscal and credit measures in order to prevent the abandoning of farmland in our region."


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