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Andalusia Pledges Big Investment in Olive Sector

More than €60 million will be provided to farmers and agricultural associations to invest in irrigation infrastructure and new technology.

Jun. 27, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

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The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Rural Devel­op­ment of the Andalu­sian provin­cial gov­ern­ment has pledged €47.1 mil­lion for invest­ment in irri­ga­tion infra­struc­ture and tech­nolo­gies. The provin­cial gov­ern­ment also said that it would pro­vide €16 mil­lion to pro­mote inno­va­tion in the agri-food sec­tor.

Now is the time to strive and boost the sec­tor from a global per­spec­tive.- Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, Andalu­sian Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Fish and Rural Devel­op­ment

Olive pro­duc­ers in the autonomous com­mu­nity will ben­e­fit greatly from both invest­ments. The invest­ment in irri­ga­tion is part of an ongo­ing effort to mod­ern­ize Andalusia’s aging infra­struc­ture as well as find new ways to mit­i­gate the effects of cli­mate change on the region.

To date, more than €66 mil­lion has already been announced in sev­eral sup­port lines for the mod­ern­iza­tion of irri­ga­tion, new irri­ga­tion infra­struc­ture, improve­ment of energy effi­ciency and even self-pro­duc­tion of energy with solar plants,” Anto­nio Morente Gal­is­teo, a spokesman for the Andalu­sian Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­ing and Rural Devel­op­ment, told Olive Oil Times.

These invest­ments are not only for mod­ern­iza­tion and improve­ment but also will sup­port the con­struc­tion of sewage treat­ment plants, which will allow the regen­er­a­tion of puri­fied water to make it suit­able for irri­ga­tion, as well as the pipes to take that water to the spe­cific com­mu­ni­ties and even reach new areas,” he added.

The money will be spread among local gov­ern­ments in order to dis­sem­i­nate to spe­cific farm­ers and pro­vided to water treat­ment plant com­pa­nies in the selected regions. Morente Gal­is­teo said more details regard­ing the exact allo­ca­tions of the money would be decided later in the year.

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Mean­while, the invest­ment of €16 mil­lion will be used for the devel­op­ment of mobile appli­ca­tions, the use of satel­lites and drones for pre­ci­sion agri­cul­ture and the appli­ca­tion of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence in farms and indus­tries.

From the Andalu­sian Gov­ern­ment, we want the olive sec­tor to lead and rev­o­lu­tion­ize the dig­i­tal era, tak­ing advan­tage of the full poten­tial of new tech­nolo­gies,” Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, the Andalu­sian Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Fish and Rural Devel­op­ment said at the 2018 Futur­o­liva fair in Jaén.

So far, €8.7 mil­lion has already been made avail­able by the Andalu­sian provin­cial gov­ern­ment to dis­trib­ute using inno­va­tion oper­a­tive groups, which include farm­ers and agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions. Accord­ing to Sánchez Haro, €3.8 mil­lion has already been allo­cated to help develop 17 dif­fer­ent projects. More than half of that total has been specif­i­cally ear­marked for olive grow­ers.

Now is the time to strive and boost the sec­tor from a global per­spec­tive, to strengthen the bal­ance in the value chain food indus­try and to focus our efforts on inno­va­tion so that it adds value to the olive sec­tor,” he said.

The money will be awarded to spe­cific groups in the form of grants. In order to address very spe­cific prob­lems, farm­ers and pro­duc­ers fac­ing a sim­i­lar issue will form the inno­va­tion oper­a­tive groups.

These groups are usu­ally formed by pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tions with a spe­cific prob­lem, experts capa­ble of devel­op­ing a solu­tion and com­pa­nies capa­ble of imple­ment­ing it,” Morente Gal­is­teo said.

Once the prob­lem has been addressed the group will dis­solve and all par­ties involved would be able to cre­ate and join new groups. The provin­cial gov­ern­ment hopes that this flex­i­bil­ity allows for greater inno­va­tion.

A big part of this effort by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is to mod­ern­ize the sec­tor and take advan­tage of the data rev­o­lu­tion and result­ing machine-learn­ing tech­nolo­gies. There are numer­ous com­pa­nies in Andalu­sia that already are devel­op­ing these kind of tech­nolo­gies that would make olive grow­ers more effi­cient. This fund­ing oper­a­tion will act as the cat­a­lyst that allows the two groups to work together and imple­ment what is being devel­oped.

We already have exam­ples, such as the model devel­oped by an Andalu­sian com­pany (EC2CE) which, based on the data­base of the Plant Aware­ness and Alert Net­work (RAIF) and other types of data, has devel­oped a pre­dic­tive model capa­ble of antic­i­pat­ing when and where the olive fly will attack,” Morente Gal­is­teo said. In this way farm­ers can be pre­pared and per­form the treat­ments more accu­rately, sav­ing phyto-san­i­tary costs.”

The Min­istry has also recruited com­pa­nies devel­op­ing drone tech­nolo­gies for agri­cul­tural use. Accord­ing to Morente Gal­is­teo, drones will be able to help farm­ers detect dis­eases in trees, deter­mine whether there are trees that require more fer­til­izer and may even be used for pre­ci­sion pes­ti­cide appli­ca­tions.

The Min­istry is also work­ing with data com­pa­nies to develop soft­ware that will help to pre­dict prices, which will help farm­ers make bet­ter deci­sions.

We have also devel­oped a pre­dic­tive model from the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Rural Devel­op­ment to esti­mate olive har­vests based on sur­face his­tory, yield, mete­o­rol­ogy, etc,” Morente Gal­is­teo said. These mod­els learn over time, as they incor­po­rate more data series, to adjust to the real data.”

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Sev­eral olive farm­ers located in Andalu­sia declined to com­ment for this story, say­ing that it was still too early to tell whether their spe­cific farms would ben­e­fit from the invest­ments and whether they would be able to increase their pro­duc­tion and/or decrease their expenses as a result of it.





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