`Andalusian Ag Minister Pushes for A More Resilient Olive Oil Sector - Olive Oil Times

Andalusian Ag Minister Pushes for A More Resilient Olive Oil Sector

By Paolo DeAndreis
Mar. 14, 2023 07:21 UTC

The Andalusian regional gov­ern­ment and olive pro­duc­ers are work­ing together to mit­i­gate the worst effects of one of the most chal­leng­ing crop years in his­tory.

The Coordinator of Agriculture and Livestock Organizations (COAG) esti­mated that olive oil pro­duc­tion in Spain’s most sig­nif­i­cant olive oil-pro­duc­ing region fell by 58 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous sea­son. 

See Also:Andalusia Authorities Release Data on 2021/22 Season

In Jaén, Andalusia’s most sig­nif­i­cant olive oil-pro­duc­ing province, the yield dropped by 66 per­cent.

Along with the con­se­quences of the ongo­ing drought, nearly every node in the region’s olive oil sup­ply chain faces ris­ing costs and lower mar­gins due to ris­ing olive oil prices

The largest pro­duc­ers have the means to with­stand such times,” Anthony Old, the chief exec­u­tive and part­ner of the award-win­ning pro­ducer Storm, told Olive Oil Times. For smaller ones, it might be an uphill strug­gle.”

Farmers are also wary of the impacts of the coun­try’s national strat­egy to imple­ment the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which offi­cials in Andalusia pre­vi­ously warned would reduce the amount of fund­ing avail­able to olive farm­ers. 

Local farm­ers are cop­ing with a per­fect storm,” Carmen Crespo, Andalusia’s min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, water and rural devel­op­ment, told Olive Oil Times.


Carmen Crespo

Many in the indus­try have asked the gov­ern­ment to sup­port olive grow­ers and oil pro­duc­ers through these con­cur­rent chal­lenges.

COAG asked for extra­or­di­nary fund­ing and an action plan to sup­port the sec­tor after many farm­ers saw sig­nif­i­cant income declines due to the excep­tion­ally poor har­vest, which has largely been blamed on the coun­try’s unprece­dented drought.

Despite a sig­nif­i­cant decline in national and global con­sump­tion, exporters in Spain are strug­gling to meet their com­mit­ments, with imports ris­ing by 26 per­cent in the first four months of the crop year to meet the short­fall. 

In the face of these sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges, the Andalusian gov­ern­ment, olive grow­ers, agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions and other mem­bers of the sup­ply chain have sent a list of changes they would like made to Spain’s national strate­gic plan to imple­ment the CAP.

With the new CAP, Andalusia is going to lose at least €500 mil­lion when other Spanish regions are see­ing their sup­port increase,” Crespo said.

We must remem­ber that one out of three CAP recip­i­ents in Spain is Andalusian, which means that a bad CAP for Andalusia is bad news for the whole coun­try,” she added. We want the CAP to return to being an incen­tive for the Andalusian coun­try­side.”

One of the most urgent requests of the pro­posed changes is the estab­lish­ment of addi­tional pro­duc­tive regions. This way, Andalusia can avoid mil­lions in losses that the new CAP entails,” Crespo said.

One of the most sig­nif­i­cant changes to the CAP is the imple­men­ta­tion of strict envi­ron­men­tal require­ments that farm­ers must fol­low to receive fund­ing, known as eco-schemes. 

Among the changes Crespo and the coali­tion of inter­est groups in Andalusia are ask­ing for is greater flex­i­bil­ity in the appli­ca­tion of eco-schemes” to include a broader sec­tion of organic farm­ers.


Additionally, the coali­tion wants a looser def­i­n­i­tion of what con­sti­tutes an active farmer, cur­rently defined as one who receives 25 per­cent of their income from olive grow­ing.

Beyond the CAP, water scarcity, deser­ti­fi­ca­tion and other impacts of cli­mate change are top of mind for farm­ers and pro­duc­ers.

Andalusia is located in south­ern Europe and is par­tic­u­larly affected by cli­mate change,” Crespo said. We have a drought that is no longer tem­po­rary; it is struc­tural in our region and, of course, affects the olive grove, our main crop.” 

The regional gov­ern­ment of Andalusia man­ages the intra-com­mu­nity river basins – the Guadalete-Barbate, Tinto-Odiel-Piedras-Chanza and Mediterranea – which account for about 33 per­cent of the region.

The rest, such as the Guadalquivir or the Guadiana, is man­aged directly by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment,” she said. And it is pre­cisely in the Guadalquivir River Basin where the largest olive area of the autonomous com­mu­nity is con­cen­trated.”

Managing the water resources of these inter-region basins is the respon­si­bil­ity of Madrid. Still, Crespo said the local gov­ern­ment had sup­ported efforts to mod­ern­ize irri­ga­tion infra­struc­ture, improve energy effi­ciency and com­mit to regen­er­at­ing water from waste­water treat­ment plants.

According to Crespo, Andalusian olive com­pa­nies are more than aware of the impor­tance of car­ry­ing out an agri­cul­ture where sus­tain­abil­ity and effi­ciency are para­mount.”

She added that the olive sec­tor is actively study­ing eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties that might come from a mod­ern approach to waste treat­ment, such as turn­ing olive pulp into fer­til­izer.

The Junta de Andalucía has recently approved its Circular Economy Law, a first for Spain, which will be the defin­i­tive endorse­ment of ini­tia­tives for the use of waste,” Crespo said. In Andalusia, use and dis­posal is a mat­ter of the past, as today we man­u­fac­ture, use and reuse our resources.”

According to Crespo, the Andalusian gov­ern­ment has spent €70.5 mil­lion to mod­ern­ize olive farms and the olive oil pro­duc­tion chain, includ­ing incor­po­rat­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Her focus on the olive oil sec­tor is no sur­prise. According to the min­is­ter, the sec­tor pro­vided 13.8 mil­lion salaries in the cur­rent crop year, with 36 per­cent com­ing from har­vest oper­a­tions. In 2022, Andalusia exported 893,924 tons of olive oil worth €3.3 bil­lion

As a result, Crespo said the first Andalusian strat­egy for the olive sec­tor would be imple­mented from 2023 to 2027.

Its plan­ning is already under­way through an open dia­logue with the whole sec­tor,” she said. It aims to pro­mote the mod­ern­iza­tion and the com­pet­i­tive­ness of all types of olive groves, with­out for­get­ting the impor­tance of incor­po­rat­ing the cir­cu­lar econ­omy as added value.”


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