We now leave you with the interview with our Honorary President, Antonio Estévez Criado for the magazine Almería en Verde (Coexphal, Faeca).
Antonio Estévez Criado, Exporter and First President of Coexphal.
1 – When did you start working in agriculture and for how many years? How was agriculture in Almería at that time?
– I always worked in the export sector , and consequently very tied to agriculture. I started at the early age of 14, and it was from 1970 when I started working in El Ejido, in a company called Huvercón SA, created within the Group Antonio Verde. Those were my beginnings in horticultural exports, and it is from that moment, when I start to follow the development of production under plastic. In this long journey I have followed the ongoing transformation carried out both in greenhouses and in individual products , with new and better varieties , always focused on the same goal: to achieve at all times the highest customer satisfaction and European tastes .
2 – What are the main differences that you see, regarding the horticultural sector as of today?
– There are many, but I would stay with the persistence of the producers, and the cooperatives themselves, working hard to come up with a better and healthier result. No doubt this is the best news . Today there is no European country that calls into question the quality and safety of products coming from Almería .
3 – From your perspective , what things have remained unchanged over the years ?
– Would highlight a very important , and that has much to do with our unique way of being: individualism . Sometimes they have not made many common shares that would have benefited the sector. This is an attitude that does not benefit anyone , a way of thinking that has made us lose time, and often, excellent business opportunities. Nevertheless, the machinery continues to progress and I hope that nothing and nobody can stop it.
4 – . COEXPHAL is one of the oldest Partnerships. How does this Association works?
– Coexphal was created about 40 years ago, as an imperative to the difficulties of the two sectors : producer and exporter. From that moment onwards, we began a “fight” with the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture, that would allow us to increase and export our products regardless of country or varieties. There were many years of meetings that allowed us, little by little, to place our province in the rightful place according to their capacity. From here I have a fond remembrance for all those who , for years, took turns to attend these meetings , and very particularly to my good friend Juan Antonio Petit, Valencian birth and Almeria adoption , who worked really hard in all sectors for the development of our province.
5 – How does COEXPHAL work today?
– Today, as in the past , Coexphal remains the driving force , and guidance for both sectors , keeping in touch with management and monitoring by the European guidelines on export and production .
. 6 – From your perspective, what things are still to be improved in horticulture? Why we are not able to overcome these difficulties ?
Difficulties , no doubt , we will always have, but the important thing is to know where we are and what we want. We know that every day we go to more competition , so we must keep the following objectives: a) To improve the quality every day, and the constant search for new products and varieties, b ) Being aware that we have new competitors with lower production costs we need to put our efforts with the intention of increasing production per square meter each year. And it is here that most need the support of all institutions involved in such development. Continuous research , funding needed for future structural improvements , and political contribution where necessary, will be essential to our development is not slowed see in the coming years .