The National Federation of Fruit Growers (FNPF) is presenting a wide-ranging study of risks, particularly human risks, in the sector at its congress this week. Find out more from its director Stéphanie Prat.
What were the FNPF's intentions in launching this study of the risks in the fruit-growing sector?
We thought about this with the multiplication of the negative consequences of numerous events, well before the very heavy frost in April 2021. Fruit growing is an economic sector in its own right that must have tools for the strategic management of companies. This risk mapping exists in other sectors with identified professions. But the small structures in our sector cannot afford to have, for example, an employee dedicated to these subjects. We needed to carry out a cross-sectoral study, at national level, to provide us with tools on the diversity of these risks.
What lessons do you draw from the study?
The three major risks identified are climatic hazards, the lack of manpower and phytosanitary regulations. These are subjects that we deal with at the collective level of the FNPF. Another, more surprising finding: the risk linked to the market is considered low. For two reasons: the French origin appears to be a real asset and, less positively, the volumes of stone fruits for example having fallen by 50% in 20 years, it is easier to sell a smaller production.
The risks categorised as 'human' stand out very high in the study. Why do you think this is?
This mainly concerns the availability of labour, both seasonal for harvesting and permanent: skills such as crop manager or quality engineer are difficult to find. It is first of all a problem of visibility and knowledge of arboriculture in the agricultural landscape, which is perhaps less attractive than market gardening for example. Training is also insufficient, especially to attract young people from outside the agricultural world.
Is the transfer of farms also a "human" issue that concerns your members?
This is a clearly identified major risk. It is a reflection of the age pyramid in our sector, where many farmers are in their fifties, sixties or even seventies. The traditional scheme of transmission to children is more complicated today, because of the capital to be paid out in inheritance tax, but also because of the difficulties of image for the younger generations.