An overhaul of Andalusia’s olive oil sector is underway with laws now in place to set up an Andalusian Olive Council and a six-year strategic plan for the sector just months away from completion.
Andalusia’s regional government announced today (March 20) that it had approved the necessary regulation to set up the 26-member council, which will include representatives drawn from the government, industry and consumer groups, experts and business people.
Agrarian union Asaja, which will have a seat in the council, criticized the composition, saying that just 26 percent of the membership would comprise industry representatives and this was insufficient.
Among the council’s first tasks will be to advise on how to promote sustainable development and improve the marketing and quality of olive oil.
In a press release, the government said the council would also have the power to publish binding advice in relation to the management plan for the sector, which it said last September would take about a year to develop.
The plan will have two main prongs: improving competitiveness and promoting sustainability.
As part of the former, it will provide measures to modernize traditional farms and encourage use of waste-to-energy systems, boost R&D and training, and – possibly most importantly – reduce the high degree of fragmentation on the production side.
To provide for a more sustainable sector, policies are promised to help maintain producer income levels, to increase diversification both in farms and processing plants, and to help the sector get greener with increased organic production and more efficient water use.
Earlier this month, the regional government also announced that it had spearheaded the establishment of a forum of European olive oil regions to jointly lobby to protect their interests.
Meanwhile, European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş is also working on a plan to address problems in Europe’s olive oil industry.
“The Commission is preparing an analysis of the sector, and we hope to be able to start discussing concrete ideas to address certain structural issues in the coming months,” Cioloş said last week.
Spain’s olive oil sector is at a major crossroads with producer prices stuck at rock bottom as it faces likely cuts to its EC subsidies. While production is at an all-time high, the current drought spells trouble for the next harvest.