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  • Spain: 20,000 hectares of almonds planted annually

    Jun 16th, 2016

    Almond and pistachio crops are two of the most expensive crops. Planting a hectare of almonds on lands with irrigation systems costs about 5,000 Euro while planting a hectare of pistachio costs around 4,500 Euro (2,500 Euro in lands with no irrigation systems). Despite being so expensive, these two crops are very promising because of the high returns obtained by producers due to the high prices being paid for them. Last week, Asaja Cordoba and the Fundacion Caja Rural del Sur organized a conference to discuss the future of the dry fruit crops in the province. "Every year producers plant about 20,000 hectares of almonds, and half of them are planted in Andalusia," said the president of Asaja Cordoba, Ignacio Fernandez de Mesa. "It is an alternative to the crisis of extensive crops and it has a very interesting market," he said.

    The president of Almondras Morales, Francisco Morales, said the almond had a promising future. "I welcome the current changes, although this should have been done 20 years ago. My company imports about 6.5 million kilos from California, and from other countries, such as Australia," he said. The company is one of the largest Spanish companies in the dry fruit market, as its income ranges between 170 and 180 million Euro. In this sense, the vice president of Caja Rural del Sur, Ricardo Lopez-Crespo, said the entity provided low interest loans to promote these new crops to revive the economy in rural areas.The delegate of Agriculture, Francisco Zurera, stated that this was a growing sector and that Cordoba needed to diversify its productions. According to the Provincial Delegation of Agriculture, there are currently 1,050 hectares devoted to almond crops and 330 hectares of pistachio. According to experts, it takes producers five years to recover what they invested in one hectare of irrigated almonds. This year, almond prices have averaged 8.5 Euro per kilo, and producers can produce between 1,300 and 1,400 kilos per hectare.

    Regarding pistachios, Jose Maria Fontan, the head of R&D at Eurosemillas, said this product could have a large presence in the province of Cordoba, especially in the areas of Guadiato, Los Pedroches, and in the Subbeticas highlands. "I would recommend producers cultivate this product if they have the appropriate weather conditions and irrigation systems (although they can be grown in dry lands), because it is a sector that has good prices and production is low in Europe," he said.Fontan said there were few crop because of the low temperatures the crops required in some periods. He also said Cordoba was suitable for the production of these crops. "The European Union imports about 140,000 tons to meet its demand," he said. He also stressed that prices were very stable. "At the strategic level, the producers that cultivate almonds are diversifying with pistachio crops," he added. He also said he thought Spain could lead pistachio crops worldwide because of the country's availability of agricultural lands and climate. Right now, Italy and Greece are the main producers in Europe.