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Bumper vegetable crop spells disaster for farmers

Switzerland currently has a surplus of 500 tonnes of tomatoes every week


Swiss vegetable farmers are facing a 20 per cent drop in income as bumper crops of tomatoes, lettuces and carrots force prices down.

Peter Märki, the head of the Swiss vegetable producers' association, said the loss of income could be disastrous for the country's farmers, who are already dependent on state subsidies.

According to Märki, springtime rains, particularly in the month of March, delayed sowing. Consequently, vegetable harvests were also later than usual.

Märki said these problems had been compounded by weather conditions in recent weeks, which had favoured the development of tomatoes and led to the bumper yields.

"Tomatoes are the vegetables most affected," Märki said. "At the moment we are producing up to 500 tonnes more than we need every week."

He said there was also an overabundance of carrots and lettuces. With many Swiss taking their summer holidays in July, sales of the vegetables had fallen, leading to a surplus of stock.

Earlier this year, the government announced it was set to increase subsidies for farmers by two per cent, or SFr200 million ($116 million) in a bid to keep Swiss agriculture competitive. It said at the time the move was mainly aimed at supporting organic farming.

While farmers' associations welcomed the increase in subsidies, it was criticised by the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation, which wants state support for agriculture phased out.

Swiss farmers benefit from some of the highest subsidies in the world.

swissinfo with agencies


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