ARTICHOKE farmers in the southern Costa Blanca have slammed the lack of assistance the sector has received for the damage from last September’s extreme weather events.
A statement from the Vega Beja Artichoke Association claimed the regional sector “has not received one cent in help.”
The association goes on to maintain artichoke farmers have been abandoned by public administrations.
“It is a desolate panorama for all those farmers who have their cultivations on the left bank of the river Segura because they have lost everything and there are no signs that things can improve”, commented the association president Diego Martinez.
“Our association asks that the needs of this sector, which is vital for the Vega Baja, are dealt with urgently”, Martinez said, noting, “it is not only the farmers who are suffering, but also some companies in the sector, who have had to take measures, and reduce, with great regret, their workforces.”
He went on, “It is time that the photos, the words, the visits and the good intentions become a reality.
“Throughout those fatal days many authorities came to the region and expressed their solidarity with those affected, but unfortunately, these visits were just gestures.”
Vega Baja artichoke producers are, Martinez affirmed, in a situation of “an extremely serious, exceptional case, and which has to be addressed to not leave to one side thousands of farmers family members.”
The severe storms four months ago have led to an “atypical” artichoke campaign in the region the sector association says due to the total loss of production in the most affected areas, including Dolores, Almoradi, Orihuela, San Fulgencio and Rojales. This area represents about 60 per cent of region’s total production.
Areas which are higher up and further away from the left bank of the Segura, among them San Miguel de Salinas and Benejuzar, were less affected.
Martinez said they were therefore managing to supply fresh produce to the market and meet demand, but that if had had not been for the extreme weather “it would have been a great campaign for the sector.”
He concluded, “if we really want to protect the vegetable garden of Europe, guarantee the generational replacement and that agriculture continues creating wealth and employment in the Vega Baja, we have to take urgent measures and address its needs.”