`Farmers Union Reaches Out to Uninsured Olive Growers


Farmers Union Reaches Out to Uninsured Olive Growers

Oct. 28, 2010
By Daniel Williams

Recent News

By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Con­trib­u­tor | Report­ing from Barcelona

The coun­try­side of Jaén, Spain is the largest olive grow­ing region in the world, and at present some 2 mil­lion tons of olives are in the process of mat­u­ra­tion. Most of these olives, which are cen­tral to both the local and national economies, are not insured thus leav­ing the olive farmer vul­ner­a­ble if they are lost due to inclement weather.

As with all har­vests, Mother Nature can be gen­er­ous dur­ing one year and cruel in the next. A good exam­ple of this unpre­dictabil­ity can be seen in the frosts that gravely affected Span­ish olive plan­ta­tions dur­ing Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary of
2005. Dur­ing these months, some 18,700 hectares of olive trees in Jaén were destroyed.[1] The cold spell dev­as­tated the olive trees in the region destroy­ing more than half of the fol­low­ing year’s pre­dicted har­vest. At the time, the Span­ish cen­tral gov­ern­ment and the Andalucían regional gov­ern­ment were forced to dish out loans to the affected farm­ers total­ing some­where in the range of 25 mil­lion Euros.

Sim­i­larly, in 2007, cold weather in San Juan, Argentina destroyed scores of olive groves, total­ing nearly 70% of the province’s total prod­uct. Ear­lier this year, cold weather once again made its descent on the Argen­tinean coun­try­side and pre­dic­tions for the result­ing cam­paign were equally pessimistic.[2]

These recent unpre­dictable mete­o­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions have moti­vated the
sec­re­tary of the Union of Small Farm­ers (UPA), Ana Dolores Rubia to help raise aware­ness among plan­ta­tion own­ers about the impor­tance of secur­ing insur­ance for their crop. Many farm­ers are igno­rant of the process itself and this cam­paign seeks to fur­ther increase aware­ness. It is pre­dicted that many more farm­ers would opt for the insur­ance plans if they were aware of the con­di­tions of the pol­icy, as the Span­ish cen­tral gov­ern­ment, through the Min­istry of the Envi­ron­ment, sub­si­dizes almost half of the cost.


The UPA, a pro­fes­sional farm­ers union which rep­re­sents the inter­ests of more than 80,000 small scale farm­ers and cat­tle breed­ers, has found that only 3% of olive grow­ers have insured their plan­ta­tions against a disaster.[3] The other 97% are left with­out recourse in the event of an unfore­seen cat­a­stro­phe.

Lorenzo Ramos, UPA (Spain) Sec­re­tary Gen­eral

If you con­sider this per­cent­age in the con­text of the mil­lions of kilos of olives that are pro­duced, the num­ber of olives not cov­ered by insur­ance is dizzy­ing. The cen­tral gov­ern­ment is ready to engage in sub­si­dized poli­cies to defend the Span­ish olive har­vest. These, how­ever, are no longer valid for this year’s har­vest, as poli­cies imple­mented this year will only guar­an­tee next year’s crop.

On Sep­tem­ber 27th of this year, the Offi­cial Bul­letin of the State (BOE) pub­lished the var­i­ous con­di­tions of the har­vest insur­ance plan whose sub­scrip­tion period runs between the 1st of Octo­ber and the 15th of December.[4] At present, the cur­rent prices to insure the olives can range between 21 and 66 euros per 100 kilos of olives. Seedlings can be addi­tion­ally insured for 2 to 8 euros per unit. The olive har­vest is insured up until it is col­lected or when the fruit has sur­passed com­mer­cial mat­u­ra­tion.



1 Acta de Pleno Odi­nario 11 de Junio 2009
2 Los fuertes fríos dañaron planta­ciones san­juani­nas de olivos”
3 Sólo tres de cada cien aceitu­nas tienen seguro
4 Boletín Ofi­cial del Estado, Lunes 27 de sep­tiem­bre (PDF)

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