The area devoted to potato and onion cultivation in the Valencian Community has decreased significantly since 2007 because both productions have low profitability. Vicente José Sebastià, the man responsible for AVA-Asaja's vegetable sector, said this year's campaign has been a real disaster because of the weather in early spring and that the profitability of most farms remains low.
Local producers, as in the case of this Valencian farmer with fields in Poble Nou, warn that the European Union's systematic suppression of active phytosanitary substances to combat pests and diseases and the climatic adversities in spring have reduced the production of onions and potatoes that still haven't been harvested in the Valencian regions of l'Horta and La Ribera by 50%. According to Sebastià, this major crop collapse, coupled with the historical escalation of production costs, sinks profitability and threatens to decrease the production of these two crops more, to the point that they might disappear from the Valencian countryside.
The agrarian organization said producers are being left helpless and without solutions to face fungi - mainly the mildew in onions and the Alternaria in some plots of potatoes - whose attacks have been favored by the climatic anomaly. As a result of this year's ban on mancozeb and dimethamorph, farmers have had to resort to more expensive and less effective alternatives; not surprisingly, there are farms that have suffered production losses despite applying up to 14 treatments since December.
The leader of AVA-Asaja said the European Union has banned two-thirds of the authorized plant protection substances in a decade, but, far from recognizing the damage it is doing by not providing the sector with effective alternatives, by 2030 it aims to cut plant protection products by 50% more.
On the other hand, the prices being offered for these products during the first sales operations of this campaign ranged between 0.10 and 0.14 euro per kilo, which is well below production costs and one-third of the average price of the previous seasons (around € 0.40/kg). Data from the Netherlands (the main European producer), together with Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, show that European onion production has been the largest in history, reaching 6.34 million tons per year, 20% higher than in previous years. This situation has caused the marketing of Spanish onions to be subject to very low prices.