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  • Pistachio acreage in Castile-La Mancha up by 3000 ha

    Dec 22nd, 2016

    Pistachios arrived in Europe in the first centuries of our era from the Middle East. Iran is currently the main producer, with almost 500,000 tons per year, but the nut is gaining more and more ground in Spain, and especially in Castile-La Mancha, competing at a European level with Greece and Italy.The crop's development is impressive, as over the past year, the acreage devoted to pistachios has grown in Spain by almost 5,000 hectares and in Castile-La Mancha by 3,000. Of the total of 15,000 hectares cultivated across the country in 2016, 12,000 hectares (80%) correspond to Castile-La Mancha, followed by Andalusia, with 1,600 hectares.

    If Castile-La Mancha is a big name when it comes to the pistachio production in Spain, Ciudad Real is the leading province by far, as it is the most representative in the sector. It had the most hectares devoted to this crop in 2016, with more than 5,000 ha. In fact, the importance of pistachios for Ciudad Real is such that it has a centre focused on the product: the woody crop research department of the El Chaparrillo agro-environmental centre, located in the capital of Ciudad Real.

    "It seems that the number of hectares has soared and that people have lost their fear of new crops, such as pistachio," affirms Francisco José Couceiro, responsible for that department of El Chaparrillo, a branch of the Council of Agriculture. This specialist describes the situation of the crop, especially in Castilla-La Mancha, as an "agronomic revolution of the sort that has very rarely been seen in Spain."Pistachios started to be planted in Spain in 1996 and twenty years later there is a cultivated area of ​​15,000 hectares, so he believes that "the prospects are very good thanks to the sector's efforts".

    In fact, the head of the El Chaparrillo centre believes that climate change is a factor that has benefited the cultivation of pistachios in Castile-La Mancha, as the product grows on a small desert tree that has a high tolerance to saline soil. Consequently, the producers' commitment has been made with a long-term perspective, because, in Couceiro's opinion, "the producers have to realise that this is an investment for the future and with a price stability superior to that of other agricultural products."

    But the crop's importance has not only been noticed in the growth of the acreage, but also in financial terms. "In the coming years, the pistachio sector will become one of the economic drivers of Castilian-Manchegan agriculture," assures Couceiro, who estimates the production of this nut in the region at around 1,000 tons per year. There is still more to say in that regard, since in 2015 the sector invoiced about 10 million Euro, an amount that represents an increase of 30% compared to 2014, and this figure is expected to continue increasing from year to year, according to data from the Council of Agriculture of Castile-La Mancha.