A 2.5 million euro regional plan to help the Puy green lentil

For years, the Puy AOP green lentil sector has been facing very serious difficulties.

A random culture that hardly appeals

Yields remain uncertain and, unfortunately, too often rather low in recent years. Sometimes even the sown plots are not even harvested. “We find ourselves harvesting fields full of weeds or blueberries,” recalled the senator-farmer Laurent Duplomb, directly confronted with this problem at his home in Saint-Paulien. “I myself reduced my area of ​​lentils from 20 to 4 hectares”.
To break this vicious circle and give producers the motivation to sow green lentils, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region had invited all the producers of the AOP zone on Monday to the Costaros village hall. “If we’re not careful, we’ll lose the Puy green lentil, which is the image and the pride of our region. We have gone from 4,800 hectares to barely 2,300 hectares today”, worried President Laurent Wauquiez, who came himself to announce the aid plan to support the sector.Laurent Wauquiez came to personally present on Monday this aid plan for the Puy AOP green lentil sector set up by the Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes region and which covers nearly 2.5 million euros over three years. Photo Lionel Ciochetto

“Three years to raise the bar”

“It’s a plan never made before for any industry. It’s colossal. We have tripled the agricultural budget in the Region”, he recalled. Because for him, there is still time to act. “We have three years to raise the bar on the lens”.
Concretely, the help of the Region through this plan concerns areas already sown with lentils, but especially new areas. “We start from the average of the last two years to find out how many hectares have been sown. From there, there will be two levels of financial assistance. For those who make the same surface, they will have a basic package and they will receive 180 euros per hectare. Then there will be the additional hectares. There, we will pay 400 euros for each additional hectare”. The Region will not disburse anything below 500 euros in aid and conversely, there will be no ceiling on the number of hectares sown. “You do it in 2022 and we pay in 2023”, argued Laurent Wauquiez again. The only constraint for the producers on the device, it is that the financial assistance is attached to repayments of loans of materials (material of harvest, sowing…).

More than 800,000 euros per year for three years

“The files are simple and there will be no paperwork. We have planned just over 800,000 euros per year. That is approximately 2.5 million euros over three years. It is a huge effort of solidarity. This aid will protect you from all the hazards, because we know that, in terms of performance with the lens, there are years with and years without…”
The device is also intended to be “flexible” with a tolerance, as for example for those who have already sown this year (the semis are in progress and until around mid-May).
All the lentil producers gathered on Monday in Costaros welcomed this announcement. It remains to be seen in practice how many additional hectares of Puy green lentils will emerge in an attempt to save this local flagship.

“We have to go back to 4,000 tonnes per year”

Laurent Duplomb, senator and former president of the Chamber of Agriculture, detailed the measures to be taken, according to him, to support the Puy AOP green lentil industry in addition to the Region’s aid plan unveiled on Monday. In particular, he mentioned the need “to ask the INAO (National Institute of Origin and Quality) the question again to see if we cannot extend the Le Puy lens zone”. For him, “we have to go back to 4,000 tonnes per year, otherwise we won’t interest anyone. The consumer risks forgetting the Puy green lentil. But Laurent Duplomb also went on a crusade against imports from Canada. “These are lentils with glyphosate that come to us at 10 mg/kg while Canadians refuse it at home at 4 mg/kg! It is therefore necessary to restore the means so that we find PDO lentils rather than lentils imported from Canada. We have to stop political correctness, ”said Laurent Duplomb.

Lionel Ciochetto

The semi under plant cover presented to lentil producers

In an attempt to improve lentil yields throughout the AOP zone, the Haute-Loire Chamber of Agriculture is studying various solutions. Among them, the technique of semi under plant cover. A demonstration was thus proposed, with suitable equipment, in a plot of the village of Montagnac in Arlempdes, Monday afternoon, to promote this new practice.Photo Lionel Ciochetto

“There are fewer and fewer molecules approved for phytosanitary products to weed plots sown with lentils. Farmers need to question themselves and work more agronomically to maintain this crop and its yield potential, ”explains Patricia Tyssandier, technician at the Haute-Loire Chamber of Agriculture, accompanied Monday afternoon by Marlène Brisse, animator at the Cuma 43 departmental federation and partner in this development.

Limit weed growth

“For three or four years, trials have been carried out to work more under plant and semi-direct cover. The idea of ​​plant cover is to plant a crop on the plot from autumn to spring, before the lentil. Like that during the winter and until the semi, or even beyond the semi, there is a carpet on the ground, another crop. Either this second crop is frost susceptible and the cold destroys it in winter. Either it is destroyed, unfortunately, by glyphosate. This creates a form of carpet to allow lentil to be sown directly in it,” continues Patricia Tyssandier. This technique offers several advantages.
“The plant cover limits the growth of weeds harmful to the good yield of the lentil. The fact of working directly, without plowing the soil, avoids the oxygenation of the latter and therefore reduces the mineralization which releases nitrogen. But the lentil hates nitrogen… If we want the legume to be robust and to manage to be stronger than the weeds, we must minimize this nitrogen rate. Hence this technique of a semi-direct under a vegetal cover. This principle was presented in detail to lentil growers.

Sometimes skeptical farmers

Several were reserved, even skeptical. “There is a bit of reluctance because plowing is cultural here. Telling a farmer to sow in a plant cover like that scares him, recognizes the technician. We can understand it. They love to sow on well-prepared ground. It comforts them,” she admits. An evolution of mentalities and practices which did not yet seem to the taste of all the producers present Monday afternoon for this demonstration in Arlempdes.


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