`Farmers Union Reaches Out to Uninsured Olive Growers - Olive Oil Times

Farmers Union Reaches Out to Uninsured Olive Growers

Oct. 28, 2010
Daniel Williams

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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.

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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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