The Valencia orange harvest in Tamaulipas is seeing a boon as prices have soared to a record-setting 5,500 pesos (US $233) per tonne. Although workers are wary of the coronavirus and sanitary measures are in place, part of the bonanza may, in fact, be due to a rise in demand for the vitamin C-rich fruit as an immune system booster.
As demand rises nationwide for the citrus fruit, states like Veracruz and San Luis Potosí have been unable to keep up, which is good for orchards in Tamaulipas where workers can earn between 700 and 1,000 pesos (US $30 to $42) a day.
“It is supply and demand, since there is no fruit on the market, prices rise,” explains Rodrigo Fernández, an expert in fruit marketing. “Because of the fear that was generated by the coronavirus, like it or not, people take vitamin C because of reports that it protects people’s immune system.”
But a latent fear of a massive outbreak of infection among orchard workers remains. Five people in the state’s orange-growing region have been infected thus far.
In El Carmen, Güémez, a region that produces the highest percentage of the state’s 500,000 total tonnes of oranges each year, Mayor Luis Lauro Reyes ordered the installation of sanitary checkpoints for workers, who are provided with masks and hand sanitizer and have their temperatures taken. And workers say they are taking sanitary measures seriously.