Life from an outsider's perspective…

¡Ni Papas! (Not even potatoes!)

Disaster potato losses in North Tenerife, La Orotava, Canary Islands. Catastrophic potato harvest; potato cultivation in crisis.For those of you who don’t know “ni papas” is a Canarian expression which literally translates as “not even potatoes” but really means “nothing” (I suppose because if you’re not even collecting potatoes, there’s nothing left). Usually it’s tacked on the end of a sentence; I’ve heard it used in the following phrase by my driving instructor: “Cuando hablan Inglés no entiendo nada, ¡ni papas!”. (When they speak I don’t understand anything, nothing!)

Normally I don’t bother translating local Spanish news because Pamela of does such a fine job. But since we here at Tenerife-Training actually live on a combined potato/grape/orange farm, this story is right up my alley so I feel compelled to cover it.

In the North zone of Tenerife potatoes have been grown and harvested for at least the las two centuries. On April 24th 2008, there was a heat wave & the combined strong winds then wiped out up to 80% of production in the worst hit region of Benijos. The entire zone known as “Las Medianías” in the North of the Island was affected, especially the La Orotava valley. The losses vary between 70 and 80% of a normal harvest. These damages have been caused by the dehydration and defoliation of the plants.

If you can read Spanish, El Día has been following this news more closely for the last fortnight or so. They’d previously quoted losses of 11 million kilograms of potatoes in La Orotava, Los Realejos, San Juan de la Rambla and La Guancha. They reported that the potato harvest would not surpass 180,000 kilos in the case of San Juan de la Rambla and La Guancha, where they would normally be able to collect 2.7 millon kg.

It’s not the first time the potato sector has been in crisis. Meanwhile, the Spanish newspaper La Opinion reports that “The potato sector afronts the worst crisis en its history”.

The latest news from them is that today, the president of the Canarian Government (Coalition Canarias, CC) finally admitted that the situation of potato cultivation in the region is a “catastrophe” after visiting the Potato producers of Benijos Cooperative yesterday. He then promised “to study formulations of ‘ideas’ that permit the creation of a special line of help” for the 1500 affected farmers for losses approaching €5 million in the region, according to the president of the Benijos potato cooperative, Octavio Dóniz.

“Vamos a estudiar las posibilidades que existen dentro del marco legal europeo, que no permite otorgar ayudas a producciones que no estén aseguradas, como es el caso de la mayoría de los cultivos de papas. Sin embargo, vamos a tratar de encontrar alguna vía excepcional para atender esta situación catastrófica en la producción del Norte”.

“Vamos a buscar alguna vía imaginativa, excepcional, que nos permita, directa o indirectamente, echar una mano a las familias que han visto perdidas sus cosechas este año”, subrayó.



“We’re going to study the possibilities that exist inside European law, which don’t permit aid to cultivations which aren’t insured, like is the case in the majority of potato crops. However, we’re going to try to encounter some exceptional road to attend this catostrophic situation in the North production.”

“We’re going to search for an imaginative way, exceptional, that permits us, directly or indirectly, to lend a hand to families that have seen harvest losses this year.”

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