- François-Xavier Branthôme
- 2020 Season
Las Marismas has lost more than 50% of its harvest
“A bad season” for the lower Guadalquivir region
According to the Sevillian press, the harvest season for processing tomatoes, which began mid-July in the lower Guadalquivir region, the largest production area of Andalusia, was heading for its home stretch at the beginning of September, with total volumes of about 400 000 metric tonnes (mT) expected to produce about 75 000 tonnes of paste for remanufacturing into various food products.
But according to Juan Sánchez Vargas, President of the Las Marismas de Lebrija cooperative that leads the sector in Andalusia, “at the end of a difficult season, the harvest is not expected to reach half of the quantities processed in 2019, due to adverse weather conditions and the onset of diseases (mildew, bacteriosis) and pest infestations (Tuta absoluta), which have resulted in a significant decrease in yields.”
Yields of the earlier crops, planted in March, barely reached 50 mT/ha, while the region’s average is generally between 120 and 150 mT/ha. The yields of late plantings (carried out in April) remained at around 100 mT/ha and did not improve the situation. So paste production will be limited this year.
The Las Marismas Cooperative, the largest in the province of Seville, farms a cultivation area of about 2 200 to 2 300 hectares, depending on the year. “During this season, despite the spring rains, the onset of diseases and the limitation of the number of plant-health inputs that can be used, 150 000 mT of processing tomatoes were harvested, a figure that allows sustainability and provides more than one thousand jobs in the region,” points out President Sánchez Vargas.
With this production volume, Las Marismas will produce 28 000 tonnes of paste this year, which will be exported to various countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. “This year, our goal was to expand to new destinations, but given the production shortage, that will be impossible for us,” says Sánchez.
The president of Las Marismas regrets that the second, third and fourth stages of industrial processing, which have a strong potential for creating jobs, are not carried out in the area around the lower Guadalquivir region. He also regrets that the cooperative is faced this year with “huge expenses” linked in particular to the increase in costs for plant-health inputs and the cost of anti-Covid measures, while agricultural yields have been low “in one of the worst years ever recorded.” However, the president of Las Marismas is pleased to state that “no positive cases have been recorded, so far, either in the factories or in the fields.”