VALENCIAN fruit and vegetable farmers have launched a campaign encouraging consumers to buy local in a bid to save the ailing trade.
The move by Valencia city-based Anecoop, one of the largest agricultural companies in Europe, is timed to coincide with the United Nations’ (UN) declaration of 2021 as International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).
According to the UN, the idea behind IYFV is to raise awareness about the nutritional and health benefits of eating fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis throughout every stage of life.
Last year was said to be a bittersweet time for the Spanish and Valencian agricultural sectors. Sales and exports shot up by 40% during the strict lockdown in March and April as widespread health concerns triggered a surge in demand on behalf of consumers.
However, nationwide figures dropped again during the last part of 2020 and stabilised at similar low levels to previous years.
Spokespeople for Anecoop highlight the effort carried out by producers and distributors to guarantee supply of basic products during the health crisis – a feat that should be ‘valued’ by the public.
And now the agricultural trade needs our support more than ever.
Anecoop reveals that European farming guidelines are currently being overhauled to make the trade much more environmentally sustainable and respectful with each area’s biodiversity.
This has positive and negative effects on fresh fruit and vegetable production. On one hand, it means produce is more natural, free of hazardous pesticides and bound by ever stricter quality control processes, as well as being more environmentally friendly.
However, this has a knock-on effect on production costs, making it difficult for home-grown produce to compete with cheaper, unregulated imports from non-European countries.
According to Anecoop, the continuous pressure to reduce prices in order to remain competitive causes severe problems for farmers, whose income dwindles to the extent that many are forced to abandon their crops as they are no longer able to make a profit.
To set the balance right, the Valencian co-op makes a simple suggestion: buy Valencian and Spanish produce, if possible directly from farmers at markets or from small businesses.
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