'Yellow dragon' bacteria causes orange crisis; they take advantage

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The bacteria of yellow dragon or huanglongbing devastated orange trees in the Álamo region, north of Veracruz, where production has decreased dramatically. In supermarkets and stores, the orange they offer to consumers is the one that is not placed in the juice companies located in the production regions. In addition to this evil, the drought that has hit in the last two years has also done the same.

This situation causes an increase in the price of the product, because there is little fruit going to the market since the majority goes to the juice companies.

Miguel Díaz, a producer from Álamo, explained that since 2013 there were alerts for the Undersecretariat of Agricultural Development to help them because by then the evil had already advanced and the trees were beginning to dry out. The process was slow but constant without being able to reverse it.

In my family we lost five hectares, two in Álamo and those of my brothers in Castillo de Teayo. The trees did not recover and no matter how hard we tried, it was not possible. The trees died,” he commented.

According to citrus producers and organizations, in 2010 they had a production of just over 170 thousand hectares and of that number approximately 70% have been lost and the losses in figures are equivalent to just over 15 billion pesos with a loss of 2 million tons that have stopped production.

This situation has caused a migration. Milburgo Varela was a citrus producer in the Ixhuatlán de Madero region and upon losing his orange trees, he began to travel to the north of the country and work in the fields of Sonora. His children work in Chicago and his wife is the one who takes care of the ranch that previously employed at least 10 day laborers from the region.

Now this case is multiplying by at least 150 families in this region that are no longer here,” he commented.


In at least two legislatures, the deputies of the northern districts made proposals to prevent the yellow disease from continuing to advance, they requested technology and investment to acquire accessories to protect the trees that were not sick, but it was impossible and little by little the leaves They began to color with yellow dots.

It was desperate, because we knew that we could no longer get good oranges from that tree. The fruits were produced, but they no longer had flavor and began to dry up, to have smaller but dry oranges.”

At the same time, the juice companies demanded to acquire more crops, but since they no longer had the same volume, they began to buy oranges from the north of the country. The mayor of Álamo, Blanca Lilia Arrieta, said that the drought and huanglongbing brought them a dramatic decrease in production, so they are now promoting a new planting of citrus trees with organic fertilizers. In this way she believes that they can recover, although it will take a long time for them to grow and begin to bear fruit.

That is why it is also committed to creating areas of tourist interest and site museums with archaeological finds in the region, but its governors say they are desperate because the income must be daily, no one is willing to wait.


Meanwhile, in Martínez de la Torre, another orange region, producers are changing their orange plantations to lemon, given that the bacteria is gradually destroying their trees and apparently lemon is more resistant to the bacteria. yellow dragon.

It was usually more orange than lemon. We are talking about there being about 12 thousand hectares planted with oranges versus about 8 thousand hectares planted with lemons, but now there are about 15 thousand hectares planted with lemons versus 5 thousand hectares planted with oranges because we have had the HLB for 5 years. Production decreased and oranges became more expensive because now a kilo is 10 pesos when it should have cost 2 pesos at most,” explained Rodrigo Calderón, mayor of Martínez de la Torre and also a citrus producer.

He indicated that although they have taken actions to reverse this situation, there are still problems to overcome and in itself it will affect the state because there will not be enough production for the winter season. He believes that where it will hit the hardest will be in the municipality of Álamo where economic activity is focused on orange production.

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This region has 60 packing plants and 3 juicing companies that manage an average of 2 thousand people for labor, not counting drivers and cutters. He pointed out that the demand has caused them to have to purchase crops from Montemorelos, Nuevo León, a state that has also faced drought problems.


Despite the opinion of citrus producers, the head of the Secretariat of Agricultural, Rural and Fisheries Development of Veracruz, Evaristo Ovando, has minimized this drop in production by pointing out that, on the contrary, it has risen due to new planting techniques. and organic fertilization that they have introduced with the support of extension agents who travel through the north of the state.

He presumed that there have been 225 thousand hectares that have not reported a decrease in their production, between orange and lemon, however, he observed that the price has not been able to increase and this also keeps producers dissatisfied.

And currently those who purchase almost all of the crops are the juice companies, which prevents the price from rising.

Normally, when there is a market problem, it is a problem more because the relationship that existed 15 years ago changed, 70% of the production sold fresh oranges and 30% was sold to juicers, but today more are sold. 70% to the juicers and 30% only fresh.

He indicated that that is why little by little the producers themselves have handed over control of prices to five or six juice companies, through contracts.

They are national companies, but they have their local space. For example, the juice factory that was set up in El Chote, which was the source of products from public resources, was like 80 million pesos invested with federal funds, in the end the producers fought and it was left to a businessman from New Leon and he He manages it from an income, it is valid, but in the end he monopolizes the orange,” he said.

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