Luis Miguel Fernandez, Managing Director of Coexphal, made a presentation within the framework of the agro-food conference ODS agroAlmeria, which was recently held at the University of Almeria, on how the agricultural sector of Almeria has contributed to the installation of the population and increase per capita income thanks to a non-subsidiary and very competitive model, capable of providing healthy food to 500 million Europeans all year round.
According to Fernandez, the Almeria model is based on solar greenhouses, which are productive, sustainable and profitable. “Only 1.6% of the income of farmers in this province comes from subsidies, while the Spanish average is 20.8%. Together, the subsidies from Almeria and Granada represent less than 4% of the Andalusian total, although they contribute almost 35% to the agricultural income of the Andalusian community, ”he said.
Regarding environmental sustainability, greenhouses occupy 3.4% of Almeria’s territory and generate 40% of its GDP (gross domestic product), while 49.7% correspond to protected areas. On the other hand, Almeria is a world reference area in the use of biological control, which today is implemented at 50% in production, reaching almost 100% in certain crops such as peppers, he said. he declares.
According to Fernandez sees, this is the great competitive advantage of Almeria. “We are Europe’s vegetable garden in winter, now we must be its organic vegetable garden,” he said. The main competitors in the province are not ready to do so. Morocco does not apply this model and cultivation in the Netherlands is soilless and therefore cannot be certified organic. “We are practically alone,” he said.
In addition, Almeria has grown from 406 hectares of organic greenhouses in 2013 to 3,212 hectares in 2019, or more than 10% of the cultivated area of the province. In addition, more than a thousand hectares of the province are in transition to this type of production.
In addition, Almeria uses its water resources efficiently, so that its per capita water footprint is 20 times lower than the national average. It is also a CO₂ sink, because each hectare of greenhouse absorbs the daily emissions of eight cars, or half of the province’s vehicle fleet.
In addition, Almeria has the highest concentration of agricultural laboratories and the highest rate of agricultural engineers per farmer in Europe, which helps this region to maintain the quality of its productions. In addition, said Fernandez, agriculture in southeastern Spain is the most transparent production thanks to the 100% implementation of traceability, which they pioneered in agriculture in 1997.
The head of Coexphal also mentioned the minimization of food waste thanks to the collaboration of the Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers Organizations with 32 Food Banks.