Undeniably, the situation for oranges is difficult this season. This citrus fruit, characteristic of the Region of Valencia, has been the source of income for agricultural producers for decades (even centuries) and has shaped the Valencian landscape with its traditional orchards, but it is currently facing major problems. Intense competition (also considered unfair) from other countries, the entry of investment funds into the sector or the rise in production costs are the reasons for a drop in profitability which threatens the very continuity of the activity and is already causing the abandonment of deposits in the Region.
However, oranges have brought Spain to the top of the ranking of exporters, not only on the European continent, but also in the world, and, given the importance of the activity for the country, Laura Vargas, from the cooperative La Vall de la Casella, says it deserves the implementation of promotional campaigns from the State.
“La Vall de La Casella is an organic cooperative; but not because of trends, but because we are convinced that it is the right thing. For us, more than a sector of activity, it is a way of life; it is our way to achieve a sustainable society, a healthy ecosystem and to be able to leave fertile land for our children and grandchildren. In fact, we carry out projects so that society appreciates what the earth has to offer. to offer.
“For years we have been providing healthy breakfasts to schools in our area,” explains the business manager of the Alzira-based cooperative. “We believe in encouraging people to eat fruit, not just as a supplement, and promoting healthy lifestyles. And this needs to happen from an early age, because after all, we are what we eat. “
“We are also part of the Association of Small Organic Citrus Producers of the Júcar River, and we focus our efforts on defending small farms and rewarding the work of small producers who really take care of their trees. Although there are a growing number of large estates and corporations with large amounts of land, we believe that small producers must be able to continue to subsist and maintain their activity, and to achieve this it is necessary that they receive fair prices for their fruits.”
“I’m talking about organic fruit, which we work with, but the same goes for conventional fruit. This season I’ve seen prices as low as 5 cents per kilo. I’m sure we all understand that this is absolutely unsustainable. .”
“For us, La Vall de la Casella is much more than a cooperative: it is a means that allows us to do many things in which we believe. But we are only a small contributor in a very large sector and we would need a good promotion institution.”
“As I said to Valencian President Ximo Puig at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, it is very good that aid is approved so that producers can grow oranges, but if we cannot sell them, we are lost. And this promotion work relies on the institutions,” explains Laura.
“It is unacceptable that we have the largest and best supply of citrus fruits on the continent and that in some countries it is considered second rate because it does not have a brand that supports it and adds value to it. Canarian bananas have been properly promoted for years and as a result we have all become familiar with the fruit, and the brand is almost an entity in itself. Spanish and Valencian oranges also need to be promoted in a way that allows them to stand out in the same way.
“The IGP Citrus de Valencia has already taken a big step in terms of promotion, but there is still a lot to do and this requires additional investment. It is absurd that government officials had to taste “alleged” Valencian oranges at a private stand. in Berlin at one of Europe’s largest fruit and vegetable fairs.”
“The orange sector still has a lot of potential. We have a great product and we have to take care of our growers. A new generation is coming up behind them, and if they can’t continue to live from farming, they We can’t let that happen, and it’s all up to us right now,” Laura Vargas said.