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Spain: Asparagus grows by 10% a year in Granada

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-05-17  Views: 37
Core Tip: The sugar beet came first, with almost thirty factories operated in La Vega during the first half of the 20th century.
The sugar beet came first, with almost thirty factories operated in La Vega during the first half of the 20th century. There was so much wealth that it even had an impact on Granada's urban development, as they were able to construct the Gran Via. That splendor lasted until the late 1970's. Then came tobacco, and at its peak, in the early 1990s, there were more than 2,500 farms devoted to this crop. Now, many producers cautiously say that the asparagus will constitute Granada's third agricultural revolution. Historically, this crop had a strong presence in the area of the West and in Vega Baja, and it has recorded a remarkable expansion in recent years throughout the whole province as plantations have reached the area of the Altiplano. However, this growth is already threatened by the collapse of the domestic and international markets, in which powerful competitors, such as Italy, have erupted with force.

There are two reasons that explain this boost of asparagus. The first and most important reason is that it is possible to grow them in Granada. Granada has the ideal climatic conditions for the development of this activity.

What's the problem?
That the same thing happens in Seville or Cordoba, to cite close examples. And the second reason is their profitability. Producing a kilogram of asparagus, which farmers have sold for 2.10 euro in recent years, costs around 1.10 euro. One euro difference. Things were faring well so far: prices didn't fluctuate by more than ten percent in the last decade. Things, however, have changed this year. At the end of Easter week, the product had devalued by forty per cent.

Asparagus is a product that is valued for its flavor, fine texture, and because of its health benefits. It has nutrients and vitamins, it is a source of fibre and folic acid, its antioxidant power provides protection against diseases such as cancer, it strengthens the brain, and it is a natural diuretic. All these properties boost its demand, but also its offer. The increase in offer has its imbalances and problems. This plant is currently grown in 6,446 hectares in Granada. Its harvest takes place between March and June, and it is marketed fresh by powerful cooperatives, mainly in France and Germany, but it also presents a high level of penetration in England, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and little by little in Eastern European countries, such as Lithuania. Grenada exports seventy-five percent of what it produces.

Favorable forecasts

The Delegation of Agriculture assured that the expectations for this campaign were favorable. The harvest is expected to increase because weather conditions have been better than in the previous season, and because the planted area increases by ten percent each year. Currently, Granada has 6,446 hectares devoted to this crop, and Granada accounts for three fourths of the acreage in the autonomous community of Andalusia, which representing an increase of 301 hectares over the previous year. Of these 6,446 hectares, 2.342 are rainfed and 4.204 have irrigation systems, according to the statistics handled by the Board of Andalucia.

In the last harvest, Granada collected 33 million kilograms, which produced revenues of nearly 69 million euro for the Granada asparagus sector. This accounted for 5.5% of Granada's agricultural income in 2016. The main producing towns are Loja, Huetor Tajar, Montefrio, Fuente Vaqueros, Villanueva de Mesia, and Moclín, although crops can be found in almost all the regions - including Guadix, Baza, and even in the highlands. Another great reading regarding the impact of asparagus in the economy of Granada is related to labor. According to estimates from Agriculture, this season the asparagus sector will create 420,000 wages. Most of them in the harvest. Cooperative societies hire thousands of women at this time to undertake packaging and handling tasks.
keywords: asparagus
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