HRT reports that the harvest of the earliest varieties of Neretva mandarins has begun. About forty thousand tons will be harvested in three months. However, fruit growers expected a better price – 3.5 kuna for first-class and 2.5 kuna for the second class is too little because mandarins are of better quality than last year.
The Bostanac area in the heart of the Neretva can only be reached by water. But farmers who have plantations there are privileged because mandarins ripen the earliest there.
“Fresh water and the special micro-climate affects its ripening,” said mandarin producer and buyer Gradimir Seselj.
The young Deak family in Bostanc harvests the earliest variety of mandarin – zorica rana or zoran. All are sweet and delicious.
“So everyone jokes with me that I am good because I am the first variety of mandarin that is usually the best price,” said Zorana Deak from Vlaka.
Most of the mandarins will be sold to purchase centers. Manufacturers already have objections to the first purchase price of 3.5 kuna for the first class because they know from experience that it will not last long.
“If the first mandarin cannot be paid 4 kuna to the producer, it is zero. We know what is happening in the next five, six, seven days; the price of mandarins will be where they will be,” said the vice president of the Croatian Fruit Growing Association, Neven Mataga.
More than a thousand family farms, crafts, and companies are engaged in the production of mandarins, and many others are involved in the most lucrative business in Neretva.
“This means that we need about a thousand pickers a day. We also need 400-500 workers in packing houses and calibrators, and that is a serious number,” added Robert Doko.
Most pickers come every day from the border area of neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. They can only be in Croatia twelve hours a day.
“I’ve been here for twenty years. I harvest from one man, we are satisfied with our work,” said Zlata Borovac, a mandarin picker from Trebižat, BiH.
Is it hard to pick mandarins?
“Well, it’s not; the mandarins are neat, so it’s not difficult to pick them,” said Mirjana Komšić, a mandarin picker from Bobanovo, BiH.
In the next three months, the harvest should yield forty thousand tons of mandarins. If everything goes according to plan – about 150 million kuna should flow into the Neretva valley. And it has only just begun.
You can watch the full video on HRT.
For more, follow our lifestyle section.