The president of AlgarOrange, José Oliveira, told Lusa that the last citrus fruit campaign also registered price drops “between 15 and 20 percent”, compared to the year of Covid-19 pandemic, which had benefited the sector due to an increase in demand and in the amount paid to the producer, reaching 70 cents per kilogram, almost double the price charged a year earlier.
As for the exports of the Algarve citrus industry, José Oliveira stated that an “average of 20 percent of the production”, which in the Algarve is equivalent, “in average terms, to 70 to 80 percent of the national production” of “about 350,000 tonnes per year”.
“The main countries were France, Spain and Canada, but we also exported to other countries, such as Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Costa Rica”, said the leader of the Algarve association.
José Oliveira warned however, that Algarvian citrus growers are “very worried about the near future”, because of “pests that are threatening” the groves.
"Environmental and sustainability factors are important to us, however we have pests like the fruit fly, which has no integrated plan, although we are fighting for an integrated plan to combat this pest, which causes enormous economic problems for producers”, he said.
This plan should have, according to the association's leader, "traps" and "biological solutions, with the release of sterilised fruit fly males".
The "installation of a factory for the production of sterile males" is another measure proposed by AlgarOrange, but "the answer from the official entities is that there is no money and funding possibilities", contrary to what happens in countries like Spain, where producers are “equipped with good plans and good measures to combat this pest” and “there is strong public or regional investment” in this area.
"Another pest that is worrying the sector is the 'trioza'", he warned, stating that, "if it enters and spreads in the Algarve, it threatens the entire citrus industry", generating "production losses in the order of 70 percent", as “happened in Florida”, in the United States.
The same source recalled that this pest was detected for the first time in Minho and that “a national eradication plan was announced to prevent it from reaching the Algarve, which is the large citrus producing region, but the fact is that, in September 2021 “it is already in Aljezur and Vila do Bispo”.