Farmers maintaining crops and feeding animals during State of Emergency.

Farmers maintaining crops and feeding animals during State of Emergency.

20-03-2020Ultima Hora

Almost all production in the Balearic Islands has ground to a halt but farmers and ranchers don’t have a choice, they have to keep their farms and orchards ticking over no matter what.

The closure of the entire hotel and restaurant sector was a serious setback for farmers who were relying on selling their products and/or animals to those establishments over the coming months.

Now they will have to find another market for the produce, such as small trade, to prevent millions of euros worth of losses.

"There are farmers who reserved almost 60% of their produce for the catering industry, but what are they going to do with these products now?", Asks Joan Simonet, Manager of Asaja.

"We cannot do temporary ERTE because the crops are well under way and the animals have to eat every day, so we need to find a solution for what is an exceptional situation,” said Sebastià Ordines, Secretary-General of Union de Pagesos.

He acknowledged that some Agri-food industries will be able to benefit from the measures launched by the Central Government, but farmers still have to work and supply fresh produce to the citizens.

The sale of pork may have fallen drastically, but des Bosc pig farm in Petra is still in full operation.

"Pigs now have no buyers, but we must continue to feed these animals," says Simonet “this is the problem that the Agricultural Sector is facing and once the paralysis of economic activity is gone, other disadvantages will follow, such as the lack of forage supply for livestock or the devaluation of the prices of their products.”

Temporary

The Covid-19 restrictions in Europe and the rest of the world also present another problem for Majorcan farmers, because of the lack of temporary residents from countries in South and Central America during the summer season.

"We won't have enough labour to gather everything we have sown, especially at farms that are dedicated to horticulture," explains Sebastià Ordines.

Last weekend, the temporary workers hired by Unió de Pagesos returned to Colombia.

"They had to leave last week, but the problem is that no one else is coming now,” he said.

Unió de Pagesos points out that as soon as the State of Emergency was declared, the Sector went to work to ensure that there was enough fresh fruit and vegetables to keep the markets supplied.

"This is why we are negotiating with the Government Delegation so that the markets are not closed," adds Ordinas, who says the next step is for the Town Council to use tractors to help disinfect the streets of towns and cities.

"Since the declaration of the State of Emergency we have heard nothing from the Agriculture Minister, the Council has contacted us, but the Ministry has not,” he claims.

Online selling

In addition to the direct sale of agricultural products in the weekly markets that are still running in the municipalities, some cooperatives have started making home deliveries.

The Cooperativa de Sant Bartomeu de Sóller has encouraged the distribution of products to customers so that they don't have to leave home.

In other Cooperatives, like Ecofeixes in Ibiza, the number of baskets being distributed every week has increased by 71%, according to the Cooperatives Agroalimentarias de Balears.

The objective is to maintain the commitment to local products, which in turn contributes to the development of the Agricultural Sector.

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