The University of Jaen has said that, for the past 15 years, Iberian olive cultivation has no longer been able to be profitable. Those who continue to look to Spain as olive-growing model should think again. Manuel Parras, professor of marketing and market analysis at the University of Jaen, demonstrated that it is not functioning during a seminar on the state of Iberian olive cultivation. On April 21 last year, he stated that 90% of Spanish olive groves would not be profitable, or rather that, without support from the Common Agricultural Policy, they would be losing money. A look at price levels for the past 15 years of the Spanish cropping and culture system reveals this situation.
The University of Jaen has therefore opened a debate on the future of Iberian olive cultivation to restore profitability and competitiveness against such areas as North Africa, where the costs are lower, and the Spanish varieties, especially the Arbequina, can be used.
Two absolutely different and opposing directions were outlined during the seminar.
According to Manuel Parras, the only solution would be to further encourage the industrialization of the olive-growing system, in order to reduce production costs. This recipe provides for the creation of cooperatives to manage the olive groves, and the adoption of agronomic standards and professional techniques that would be used by everyone. The problem, similarly to what has happened in Italy, would then be fragmentation. There is too much agricultural machinery being used, resulting in a waste of resources, pooled management would be helpful. According to Parra, the properties must also be pooled, especially so as to reduce and further intensify cultivation, from growers to simple olive-grove lessors. This is the future outlined for Iberian olive cultivation, with large agricultural service cooperatives that would rationalize cultivation techniques and consequently, reduce costs. According to the professor, it would be possible to better target CAP resources, dispersed for a multifunctional olive cultivation that cannot be handled by individual small and independent companies.
The view of the Jaen Council Chairman Francisco Reyes, however, is different. He would like Andalusian olive cultivation to be dedicated to quality. Only thus can it be directed at "sustainable profitability". According to Reyes, "we must not only be the most important olive oil-producing country but also the largest producer of quality olive oil in the world."
Published on 29 April 2016 in http://www.teatronaturale.it (Strettamente Tecnico > L'arca olearia)