Olive Groves Lead the Way in Efforts to Boost Organic Farming in Spain

Organic olive groves already cover an area larger than Luxembourg in Spain. The crop is also the second-fastest-growing category of organic cropland.
Jaén, Spain
Jul. 20, 2021
Daniel Dawson

Recent News

Spain is well on its way to accom­plish­ing one of the main sus­tain­abil­ity goals set out by the European Commission ear­lier this year, accord­ing to Luis Planas, the min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, fish­eries and food.

In March, the com­mis­sion announced a plan to grow the share of agri­cul­tural land under organic farm­ing prac­tices to 25 per­cent by 2030. Planas said that 10 per­cent of Spain’s agri­cul­tural lands are already organ­i­cally cul­ti­vated as of last year.

See Also: Meet One of Spain’s Hobby Olive Growers

Leading the way are the country’s olive groves. According to data from the min­istry, one in 10 hectares of organ­i­cally cul­ti­vated farm­land in Spain is ded­i­cated to olive groves. Organic olive groves cover 222,723 hectares – an area larger than Luxembourg – across 16 of the country’s 17 autonomous com­mu­ni­ties.

Combined, organic olive groves account for an annual yield of about 326,000 tons of olives, of which 99 per­cent are used for olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Andalusia is home to the largest share of organic olive groves – 88,691 hectares – and about 1.1 mil­lion hectares of organic crop­lands, in gen­eral. Castilla-La Mancha fol­lows closely behind with 74,154 hectares of organic olive groves and 423,000 hectares of organic farm­land.

Autonomous Community
Organic Olive Groves (ha)
Certified Organic in 2020 (ha)
Olive Production (tons)
Andalusia
88,691
9,631
133,916
Aragón
4,420
797
3,623
Asturias
0.03
0
0
Baleares
1,056
123
1,753
Basque Country
25
0.1
10
Canarias
62
0
325
Castilla-La Mancha
74,154
4,081
106,799
Castilla and León
697
11
382
Catalonia
8,870
372
19,907
Extremadura
29,131
979
41,842
Galicia
179
2
116
Madrid
3,716
40
2,257
Murcia
4,583
129
6,110
Navarra
813
26
636
La Rioja
736
14
2,209
Valencia
5,589
398
5,944
Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Cantabria, located on Spain’s north­ern coast­line with the Bay of Biscay, is the only autonomous com­mu­nity with no organic olive groves.

Of the eight main per­ma­nent crops tracked by the min­istry, there are more olive groves than any other type. Tree nuts are the sec­ond-largest cat­e­gory, with 196,941 hectares ded­i­cated to organic cul­ti­va­tion.

Olive groves are also the sec­ond-fastest-grow­ing cat­e­gory of crop enter­ing organic cul­ti­va­tion.

In 2020, 16,600 hectares of olive groves were cer­ti­fied organic for the first time. A fur­ther 19,400 hectares are in the process of organic con­ver­sion. Almonds are the only crop that expe­ri­enced faster growth rates of organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Overall, Spain expe­ri­enced a 3.5 per­cent increase in its organic crop­lands in 2020, arriv­ing at a total of 2,437,891 hectares. Only Australia and Argentina ded­i­cate more land to organic farm­ing.

Along with the increase in organic farm­ing, the min­istry said the num­ber of pro­duc­ers cer­ti­fied as organic had also increased by six per­cent in 2020. There are now 44,493 organic farm­ing oper­a­tions in the coun­try.





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