More than 500 farmers in the fruit and vegetable sector, mainly from Almeria, gathered last week in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food to ask for urgent measures to face the rise in production costs that, according to them, has them on the edge of the abyss.
The farmers, who also came from other parts of the Spanish geography, such as La Rioja or Aragon, blew whistles and displayed banners stating that the production costs were drowning them and that, without profits, the fruit and vegetable sector had no future.
The president of Asaja Almeria, Antonio Jose Navarro, told the media that producing a hectare of vegetables in his province now costs €7.700 more than a year ago. "There's no doubt that many farmers will quit this profession and that fewer and fewer people will join the sector," he stated. Navarro asked the Ministry to listen to them and to approve urgent measures because the countryside is dying.
The provincial secretary of COAG Almeria and head of the fruit and vegetable sector at the national level, Andres Gongora, said the mobilizations should lead to a national agricultural strike in all agricultural and livestock sectors. Gongora said they needed to take united action so that the primary sector is respected.
The secretary of UPA Andalusia, Cristobal Cano, said the Government needed to approve fiscal measures, such as reducing the VAT on agricultural inputs from 21 to 10% or creating a specific energy pricing. He also said that all sectors must comply with the Chain Law, which will be definitively approved next week in Congress. He regretted that farmers are working at a loss and said that producing a kilo of tomato costs 75 to 80 cents but is only sold for 55 cents.
The manager of the Association of Organizations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers of Almeria (Coexphal), Luis Miguel Fernandez, regretted that the sector was unable to transfer costs to the final price of food. "Meanwhile, other importing countries offer the same price as other years because they have lower costs. That's why the Spanish fruit and vegetable sector is suffering in this campaign; especially when there is unfair competition.”
The producers are awaiting the meeting that Minister Luis Planas will hold with the entire agri-food sector next Monday but have warned that the mobilizations will continue beyond that date.