Tomas Garcia AzcarateTomas Garcia Azcarate, former economic adviser for short-term analysis of the EU and researcher at the CSIC.

In the first part published last week, we have put on the table a severe diagnosis of crossroads where European producers are generally tomato, and canaries in particular. But the future is written at present and there are grounds for hope and action items. In these days to celebrate 130 years canary tomato export, I dared to expose the following:

  • The tomato market is segmenting. Next round tomato, the commodity par excellence, tomato sticks and cherry tomatoes that are commoditizando, They are emerging new varieties and specialties that are creating new opportunities for those who want to create value.
  • The world of commercial distribution is changing. On the one hand they are re-emerging specialty stores; On the other supermarkets they are winning the battle to hypermarkets, approaching consumers, increasing the number of weekly visits to stores, encouraging the consumption of products more mature and tasty.
  • Despite all the difficulties which we have referred above, the hard core of the Canary tomato exports resists, with organization and with its traditional trade relations.
  • Each year, more than 10 million tourists visit the islands. They are potential consumers spot but once you return home. Promotional campaigns aimed at them, especially hotels where British citizens staying, They may be cheaper but also more effective.
  • Increasing the resilience of the sector also involves the diversification. There are different possibilities today, Banana outside, whose market is important not to assume production booms. Looking facing the tourism sector in this too can be part of the solution.
  • Public administrations must accompany producers. In the Canary Islands, They are very fortunate to have great tradition administrations, the councils and the Canary government, and interesting means, not only rural development programs but POSEICAN and special supply arrangements (REA).

These were born to offset the additional costs of insularity it represents for canaries producers. Today, after the reform that integrated platanera aid in the POSEICAN, It is raised refounding.

I dared to propose 3 objectives for this new stage: work for a decent income for producers; promote the creation of stable and quality employment in rural areas; maintain and restore ecosystems canaries.

The horizon would imagine how we want to see the agricultural and rural world canary in 20 years. No good wind for the sailor who does not know to which port is addressed. This shared future scenario should be built collectively with the whole Canarian society and then declined in the first plan 5 years. So I was surprised to learn that was under construction a sector strategic plan for tomato.

I do not want to be misunderstood. This is not to open a war front between the current beneficiaries of the aid and those not; among banana trees and tomato plants; between them and farmers. Nor is it to forget about exporting products to flood local markets and hotels. I am proposing to build together the country together, To make sure that, in a difficult budgetary context, It tries to make the best use of EU funds, national and regional available. Obviously there will be losers and accounting livestock; there would be transition periods. There will be tensions. But above all there would be a new game with some big winners, farmers and rural dwellers; taxpayers and all citizens of the Islands.

It would also ensure consistency and synergies between the various instruments of public action. Does it make sense to invest one hand (some) public money to promote indigenous livestock and, for another, Dutch cheese to sell so cheap that tourists from that country would carry in their suitcases back home?

These days were a good start. They talked about the history and the past but also the present. Of particular interest was the presentation of the interim results of a comparison of production costs between Canarias, Almería and Morocco, by Professor José Juan Cáceres or the outline of the future strategic plan for tomato, by Fernando Segura Cebada, Head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Canary Islands. The large attendance was another positive indicator. There they not only were many but were all that had to be, all players whose participation is essential to building the future.