The number of pepper, cucumber and courgette growers is falling sharply in Flanders. Compared to 2005, there are 73% fewer sweet pepper growers and the number of cucumber growers fell from 120 to 37. Total production did increase in the same period, however, due to economies of scale of the remaining farms.
Besides the large decline in pepper and cucumber growers, the number of courgette growers also fell, from 84 to 62. The dramatic drop in the number of growers came to light following a question by Stefaan Sintobin (VB) to Flemish agriculture minister Jo Brouns (CD&V). According to the minister, the previous energy crisis plays a role in the sector’s decline. The large investments needed to lower energy costs caused smaller growers to quit. The rise in production is due to better varieties and improved growing techniques.
Regarding the increase in scale among the remaining growers, Stefaan Sintobin adds: “This is actually a compulsory increase in scale, because otherwise our farmers will not stay above water. This is the result, on the one hand, of a failing energy policy and, on the other, of the pitiful prices our farmers still receive for the food they put on our plates.”