Andalusia Pledges Big Investment in Olive Sector

More than €60 million (AU$94.56M) will be provided to farmers and agricultural associations to invest in irrigation infrastructure and new technology.                                                                                                                                                                         

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Andalusian provincial government has pledged €47.1 million (AU$74.25M) for investment in irrigation infrastructure and technologies. The provincial government also said that it would provide €16 million (AU$25.22M) to promote innovation in the agri-food sector.

Olive producers in the autonomous community will benefit greatly from both investments. The investment in irrigation is part of an ongoing effort to modernize Andalusia’s aging infrastructure as well as find new ways to mitigate the effects of climate change on the region.

“To date, more than €66 million (AU$104.04M) has already been announced in several support lines for the modernization of irrigation, new irrigation infrastructure, improvement of energy efficiency and even self-production of energy with solar plants,” Antonio Morente Galisteo, a spokesman for the Andalusian Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Rural Development, told Olive Oil Times.

“These investments are not only for modernization and improvement but also will support the construction of sewage treatment plants, which will allow the regeneration of purified water to make it suitable for irrigation, as well as the pipes to take that water to the specific communities and even reach new areas,” he added.

The money will be spread among local governments in order to disseminate to specific farmers and provided to water treatment plant companies in the selected regions. Morente Galisteo said more details regarding the exact allocations of the money would be decided later in the year.

Meanwhile, the investment of €16 million (AU$25.22M) will be used for the development of mobile applications, the use of satellites and drones for precision agriculture and the application of artificial intelligence in farms and industries.

“From the Andalusian Government, we want the olive sector to lead and revolutionize the digital era, taking advantage of the full potential of new technologies,” Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, the Andalusian Minister of Agriculture, Fish and Rural Development said at the 2018 Futuroliva fair in Jaén.

So far, €8.7 million (AU$13.71M) has already been made available by the Andalusian provincial government to distribute using innovation operative groups, which include farmers and agricultural associations. According to Sánchez Haro, €3.8 million (AU$5.99M) has already been allocated to help develop 17 different projects. More than half of that total has been specifically earmarked for olive growers.

“Now is the time to strive and boost the sector from a global perspective, to strengthen the balance in the value chain food industry and to focus our efforts on innovation so that it adds value to the olive sector,” he said. More