Path to new varieties and technology needs government help Canary Island tomato growers have appealed to the islands' government for an aid package to help modernise the industry to boost yields and find new tasty varieties. Francisco Penate, president of Fedex, and his counterpart, Francisco Mesa of Aceto, represent the exporters' associations of Gran Canaria and Tenerife respectively. They have confirmed that discussions are taking place but are still cautious over whether the outcome will be successful. Grower/exporter Tomas Gomez of Valeron in the Gran Canaria, says bluntly: "We need to get a new line of credit to change the way we grow." Apart from new varieties, there is also growing concern over outbreaks of white fly and yellow leaf disease which have already hit the Canaries' counterpart producers on the Spanish mainland. But any aid package would have to be costly. Gomez estimates that to get a one hectare tomato nursery into production from scratch costs around eight million pesetas. Meanwhile, the industry is not standing still. Many of the marketing executives which run the island's cooperatives, which account for some 70% of production, feel that the industry must increase its range beyond traditional salad tomatoes into cherry, plum and beef tomatoes only being grown at present in small volumes. "The main variety is Daniella, but there is far greater interest being shown in Dutch bred Havana and Noreyda which are more resistant to whitefly," says Julio Delgardo, assistant director of the Cocarmen. "There is also interest in long life types from Israel such as Tov King and Dominique." Latest information from Foods from Spain, the national promotional office, shows that cherry tomatoes now account for around 20% of all sales with vine tomatoes adding between 5% to 10%. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}