Officials in Castilla-La Mancha Look to Oleotourism to Boost Farmer Incomes

Officials and farmers are working to build new tourist accommodations, organize tastings, and draw visitors to mils.

Consuegra windmills, Calderico hill, Consuegra, Toledo province, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
Oct. 31, 2022
By Paolo DeAndreis
Consuegra windmills, Calderico hill, Consuegra, Toledo province, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

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Efforts are under­way in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain’s sec­ond-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, to pro­vide sup­ple­men­tary income to tra­di­tional olive grow­ers through oleo­tourism.

In the south­east­ern province of Albacete, farm­ers and gov­ern­ment offi­cials are work­ing together to develop new oleo­tourism oppor­tu­ni­ties, from build­ing farm­houses and muse­ums to orga­niz­ing tast­ings, vis­its to mills and olive groves and cul­tural events.

Oleoturism arises as a form of eco­nomic diver­si­fi­ca­tion in regions such as this, regions where olive oil is pro­duced and where the tra­di­tional approach to olive oil mak­ing is cher­ished, as are its organolep­tic prop­er­ties,” said Ramón Sáez, the provin­cial del­e­gate of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development in Albacete.

See Also:Harvest Outlook Worsens in Spain

He added that efforts to develop and pro­mote oleo­tourism are crit­i­cal to pro­vid­ing addi­tional rev­enue streams to tra­di­tional grow­ers, many of whom have become increas­ingly less com­pet­i­tive com­pared to high-den­sity and super-high-den­sity olive groves.

According to regional gov­ern­ment data, olive groves cover nearly 41,000 hectares in Albacete, of which about 30,000 are rain­fed. The province gen­er­ally pro­duces about 70,000 tons of olive oil each year from Picual, Arbequina and Cornicabra olives.

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Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

Sierra de Alcaraz, which hosts about 8,200 hectares of tra­di­tional olive groves, was high­lighted as an exam­ple where oleo­tourism can make a real dif­fer­ence for pro­duc­ers.

Already, the area has its own col­lec­tive brand” to iden­tify tra­di­tion­ally-pro­duced extra vir­gin olive oil in an attempt to add value to the final prod­uct.

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Officials hope that bring­ing tourists to see this cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal process will help pre­vent Spain’s rural exo­dus, a per­va­sive prob­lem in the coun­try which prompted the cre­ation of a ded­i­cated fed­eral gov­ern­ment min­istry.

In its 2021 report, the Spanish Traditional Grove Association (Asolite) warned that more than 1.3 mil­lion hectares of tra­di­tional groves are at risk of aban­don­ment, as profit mar­gins for farm­ers have fallen con­sid­er­ably while pro­duc­tion costs have risen steadily.

Along with pro­mot­ing oleo­tourism, local offi­cials also pledged sup­port to the province’s 8,000 hectares of organic olive groves, which account for about 20 per­cent of the total.

Under the region’s rural devel­op­ment pro­gram, organic farm­ers will receive €35 mil­lion over the next five years. Organic olive grow­ers will receive about €200 per hectare for the first 40 hectares.

A spe­cific cou­pled aid for this type of olive grove, to alle­vi­ate the com­pet­i­tive dif­fi­culty of low-yield tra­di­tional olive groves, but which defines our land­scape, is an essen­tial ele­ment of the regional econ­omy due to its strong social impli­ca­tion in the gen­er­a­tion of employ­ment and the con­tain­ment of depop­u­la­tion,” the regional gov­ern­ment con­cluded.



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