THE ON-GOING drought in Alicante province is causing reductions in local fruit and vegetables reaching markets and shops.

The area is facing its driest autumn for 50 years with farm cooperatives unable to fulfill up to 25% of supermarket orders due to a lack of product.

Though there are no shortages for consumers, there is less choice and sometimes fruit and vegetables are of a lower quality than normal.

Restrictions of 25% on farm irrigation have been imposed, with some farmers being forced to make tough decisions.

“Because there is no water available, many farmers don’t plant or just cover half an area,” said Jose Manuel Blasco of the Cambayas cooperative.

He estimates production is down by around 30%, especially with winter vegetables.

Artichokes crops have suffered badly with 25% fewer being cultivated as the growing season is a month behind schedule due to the drought.

It’s estimated that artichoke farmers in Alicante province may suffer financial losses of up to €25 million, while other crops such as broccoli and cauliflowers are smaller in size.

The Surinver cooperative says water issues are forcing farmers to abandon crops that need a great amount of irrigation and are focusing instead on more profitable options like peppers.

Abandonment has been prominent in the cultivation of corn, pumpkins and watermelons.

The drought is not the only factor, as rising fertiliser costs and higher wages being paid to labourers are also impacting the agricultural sector.

Citrus fruits are also producing smaller harvests especially with oranges and tangerines, while the quality of lemons is not up to regular standards.

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