ANDALUCIA – With more than 17,000 organic farmers in the Andalucia region alone, Spain still leads the European list when it comes to organic production. At the global level, Spain is in the top-3 after Australia and Argentina.
Andalucia has almost achieved the EU target of 25% of agricultural production to be organic by 2025. Over the past five years, the area destined for sustainable agriculture and livestock in Spain has increased by no less than 37%. Almost half (45%) of the agricultural land in Andalucia is destined for sustainable production. That is agriculture and animal husbandry that take animal welfare and the environment into account.
Ecological revolution in the 90s
Paqui Iglesias has been growing almonds in Almería for decades. Initially, this yielded her 80c/kilo. Until in the 1990s, when there was an ecological revolution going on all over Andalucia, she switched to organic production. In those years, farmers received a subsidy from the government if they switched to sustainable agriculture or animal husbandry. Now the organically grown almonds yield Paqui €9/kilo, which is three times the yield of almonds in traditional agriculture.
The transition to organic farming started in Spain in the 1990s. Initially, this was to maintain a good competitive position compared to other countries. The process took years because a product can only be sold as ‘organic’ if extensive regulations are met. Andalucia was the first region to have its own approved eco-certification, something that, according to Paqui, would not have been possible without government support.
“We have set an example within Europe with our sustainable innovation in the agricultural sector. It has now become clear that we have made the right move for the future,” said Cristobál Cano, president of the Union of Small Farmers (UPA) in Jaén. According to Cano, in addition to the benefits for animals and the environment, organic agriculture has a large economic added value. Especially through export to central European countries where the consumption of organic products is relatively high.
In the pandemic year 2020, Andalucia was the only Spanish region where the organic sector expanded. In that year, 33,551 hectares of organic farmland were added, which is an expansion of 3.1%. The number of organic producers even increased by almost 10% last year.