`Jaén Co-op Warns of €1B Loss for Province’s Olive Sector - Olive Oil Times

Jaén Co-op Warns of €1B Loss for Province’s Olive Sector

By Máté Pálfi
Sep. 25, 2023 14:46 UTC

With the start of the 2023 har­vest under­way in Andalusia, the Agri-food Cooperative of Jaén has warned that the province’s olive oil sec­tor could again face a stag­ger­ing €1 bil­lion loss in earn­ings in the com­ing sea­son.

Included in the sig­nif­i­cant hit to the local econ­omy, the coop­er­a­tive esti­mated that work­ers in the province would lose €150 mil­lion in daily wages with fewer peo­ple required for the har­vest due to the low lev­els of olives on the trees.

In cen­tral Andalusia, Jaén is the world’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing province. In a nor­mal” sea­son, which the province has not enjoyed since the 2021/22 crop year, Jaén pro­duces roughly 500,000 tons of olive oil, about 40 per­cent of Spanish pro­duc­tion.

See Also:Spain Lowers Barriers for Agricultural Workers to Access Wage Subsidies

However, the Iberian Peninsula’s unprece­dented drought resulted in a his­tor­i­cally poor har­vest in the 2022/23 crop year. Recent rain across the region fell too late to save this year’s crop, with expec­ta­tions that Spain will pro­duce less than 1 mil­lion tons of olive oil for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year.

José Manuel Espejo, the cooperative’s pres­i­dent, said there had never been two con­sec­u­tive years of such low har­vests nor two suc­ces­sive droughts of this mag­ni­tude, under­lin­ing that the chal­lenges faced by the sec­tor are extra­or­di­nary.

He added that the €150 mil­lion in lost wages for work­ers would rip­ple effect across the entire econ­omy and be exac­er­bated due to the area’s heavy depen­dence on olive oil farm­ing.

The con­nec­tion between the local econ­omy in Jaén and olive pro­duc­tion is sig­nif­i­cant, and it dic­tates the health of the region’s econ­omy and agri­cul­tural employ­ment. Espejo urged farm­ers and agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions to work together to save money.

He also empha­sized the impor­tance of addi­tional sup­port for the agri­cul­tural sec­tor from the provin­cial gov­ern­ment, Andalusian gov­ern­ment and cen­tral gov­ern­ment through safe­guard­ing employ­ment and pre­vent­ing the exo­dus of young peo­ple involved in agri­cul­ture.

Due to the sharp decrease in avail­able jobs for a sec­ond year run­ning, Espejo said it could prompt young peo­ple to leave Jaén, which was the rea­son for recent protests in Córdoba on September 5th.

According to local media reports, some agri­cul­tural work­ers have left Jaén and trav­eled to France to har­vest grapes.

The demon­stra­tion was meant to send a direct mes­sage to the European min­is­ters gath­er­ing in the Andalusian city.

Farmers protested increased envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions out­lined in the lat­est iter­a­tion of the Common Agricultural Policy, demanded stricter rules on agri­cul­tural imports from non-European coun­tries and crit­i­cized the pro­posed free trade agree­ment with the Mercosur.

According to local media reports, pro­duc­tion costs for Andalusian farm­ers rose by more than 35 per­cent in 2022 while the drought low­ered the pro­duc­tive out­put of a range of crops.

Cristóbal Cano, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers in Andalusia, said ris­ing olive oil prices were not help­ing farm­ers, as they did not make up for pro­duc­tion declines.

“[The cur­rent price of olive oil] does not ben­e­fit con­sumers or farm­ers because it does not directly affect their income state­ment since they do not have a sig­nif­i­cant har­vest to be able to sell,” he said.


Related Articles