`Olive Oil Production on Fuerteventura Shows Early Signs of Promise - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Production on Fuerteventura Shows Early Signs of Promise

Oct. 3, 2012
Naomi Tupper

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Although bet­ter known as a sum­mer tourist des­ti­na­tion, the island of Fuerteventura, one of the Spanish Canary Islands, is mak­ing its mark on the extra vir­gin olive oil mar­ket.

The coun­cil of Fuerteventura has announced it expects to dou­ble pro­duc­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil by the end of the 2012 sea­son, com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year, due to increased mat­u­ra­tion of trees and lower tem­per­a­tures result­ing in a good flow­er­ing sea­son.

The 2011 har­vest saw a vast increase in pro­duc­tion on pre­vi­ous years with 40,000 kilos of olives processed and 6,500 liters of extra vir­gin qual­ity olive oil pro­duced. However, at the mid­point of 2012, 37,000 kilos had already been sent for milling, sug­gest­ing the prob­a­bil­ity of exceed­ing the 2011 total sub­stan­tially.

The island’s olive har­vest began at the end of August, with the ripen­ing of the Arbequina vari­etal, while other cul­ti­vars, such as Picual, Hojiblanca and Verdial will mature in the com­ing months.

Despite these pos­i­tive pre­dic­tions, the olive oil indus­try in Fuerteventura is still in its early days, with the Cabildo (munic­i­pal) mill open­ing for the first time in 2006, and oper­at­ing with accred­i­ta­ton for health and qual­ity since 2008. However, despite the late start, pro­duc­tion has increased six­fold since its incep­tion and looks set to con­tinue on this path of suc­cess.

During 2011 a total of 55 olive farm­ers made use of the pub­lic mill, which is offered free of charge. This was an increase from about a dozen in the first few years of oper­a­tion, when just 1,000 liters of olive oil were pro­duced. Subsequently, there are efforts by indi­vid­ual farm­ers and groups to pur­chase new mills with the hope of even­tu­ally hav­ing three addi­tional oper­at­ing mills and a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent local labels

The future for olive oil pro­duc­tion in the region looks bright, with island Minister of Agriculture, Rita Diaz, explain­ing that the soil salin­ity and cli­mate of Fuerteventura were well suited to olive tree cul­ti­va­tion, and that there was a strong com­mit­ment being made to organic farm­ing in the region, which is hoped to increase qual­ity even fur­ther.

Cabildo of Fuerteventura President Mario Cabrera and the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Rita Diaz with locally pro­duced olive oil. (ACFI Press photo)

According to Ms. Diaz, there is also the poten­tial for higher returns in the future, with dis­tri­b­u­tion of olive trees around the island from the Cabildo farm, in addi­tion to the increased cul­ti­va­tion of local vari­etals such as La Verdial Canaria.” The ini­tia­tive also aims to cre­ate diver­si­fi­ca­tion of other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts on the island, with the olive trees pro­vid­ing a wind block for many other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

Whilst the islands oil is not yet mar­keted on a large scale, it is a source of attrac­tive growth poten­tial for local farm­ers and has pro­vided the local mar­ket with a high qual­ity prod­uct.

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