An investment of 1.1 million euros to renew the cold rooms of the Benijos cooperative, in the upper part of La Orotava, and a line of financing to install new refrigerators in other production centers on the Island. It is the first measure announced by the Cabildo of Tenerife to face the potato crisiscaused by the drop in local tuber production as a consequence of the heat waves and the closure of the English market, the one that supplies the most to the Islands abroad, by a Colorado beetle infestation.
The renovation of cold storage rooms is an “essential” and “widely” measure demanded by the island’s primary sector. explains it Valentine Gonzalez, CEO of Primary Sector and Animal Welfare of the Tenerife Corporation. “With modern and more efficient cameras than the existing ones, local potatoes can be better preserved and their marketing extended beyond the months after harvesting, which generally occurs between June and July,” says Valentín González.
The person responsible for island policies in the Tenerife countryside points out that The supply of this essential product of the Canarian diet is “guaranteed”, but he admits that prices “have risen a lot”, something that affects the pockets of the islanders., accustomed to allocating a significant part of the shopping basket to tubers. «In these months of September and October, imported potatoes are always thrown away, but the closure of the English market has harmed their distribution in Canary Islands», clarifies Valentín González.
The PP politician, who was mayor of San Miguel de Abona, is going to implement some of the measures that he requested last term when he was in the opposition in the Cabildo. In 2022, Valentín González demanded new cold storage rooms and other improvements in the Benijos cooperative, which plays a very important role in the distribution of potatoes on the Island.
The PP motion
The popular ones presented a motion that was supported by PSOECC, Cs and Sí Podemos that would work, according to Valentín González said then, “to improve and increase adequate spaces for Tenerife farmers to store their potato crops, with the aim of making them more competitive”. Now in the island Government, it is going to take out the subsidy of 1.1 million and prepare a line of financing so that other cooperatives can follow the path of Benijos.
While the insular Corporation follows “very closely” the problem of the veto on the English potato and its repercussions in Tenerife, importers are looking for other markets to compensate for this unforeseen event. González points out that the alternatives are Northern Ireland and Scotlandbut also Egypt, Cyprus and Israel. It’s not going to work with local potatoes, especially not this year. The drop in production due to heat waves reaches 60% in some areas of Tenerife, a hardship for a sector of enormous value in the island countryside.
The potato is the third most important crop on the Island, behind vineyards and bananas., and in the midland areas it is one of the crops with the greatest economic relevance. According to the 2021 crop map, In Tenerife there are 1,745 hectares cultivated with potatoes, 9.3% of the total planted area on the Island. Average yields are around 18,000 kilos per hectare. In 2020, 43.1 million kilos were produced on the Island, an amount that this year, according to various estimates, does not exceed 23 million due to the damage caused by the extreme temperatures experienced already before the summer.