Andalucian olive farmers struggling to survive

Andalucian olive farmers struggling to survive Andalucía is considered one of the leading growers of the finest olive oil in the world, however recently prices have reached a dramatic low, leaving farmers in the province to consider other options.

The southern region of Spain constitutes to 80 per cent of the total olive crops grown in Spain, with 25 per cent being consumed nationally and 75 per cent being produced for export.However prices have now dropped to around €2.20 per kilo. To put that into perspective Tunisia sells its olives for €2.33 per kilo whilst Greece sells at €2.55. €2.20 euros per kilogram is also much lower than just two years ago where prices sat at €3.94,showing a huge reduction of 43 per cent.

The drop in prices has put the livelihoods of local farmers in jeopardy. Over 300 municipalities in Andalucia including hundreds of thousands of farmers depend on the olive industry to make a living.For example, Porcuna (Jaen) has a total population of 6,600, 4,700 of which work in the olive industry.This model is common across the province in rural areas.

According to the National Association of Edible Oil Refiners and Packagers (ANIERAC), the primary reasons for such a drop are over production and supply and demand laws.However farmers are firmly blaming corruption at the top levels of the industry.

Every year ANIERAC estimates that 1.13 tonnes of unused oil remains unsold per year.Local farmers also blame the larger corporations and industry leaders who profit from the bottling,distribution and marketing of the product. They are estimated to make tens of millions whilst the farmers are seeing their hard earned wages decreased.

“People can see that there are speculators, retailers, distributors and packaging companies that are getting rich with their products without actually working with them or sacrificing anything for them,” said Miguel Moreno, the mayor of Porcuna. Whilst ANIERAC is denying any wrong-doing, the government is working on plans to reduce the amount of unused oil.

The Spanish minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Luis Planasis in the process of drafting a document in parliament that would allow the self regulation of farming, meaning that seasonal storage of unused oil would be permitted. A similar scheme is implemented in the wine industry already.This would mean that any excess oil produced in certain areas would be taken off the market and the losses would be subsidised by the EU.

Olive producers also want the base figure for olive sales raised from €1.80 per kilo to €2.50 per kilo to cover costs of production

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Written by

James Warren

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