Spain: Broccoli expands in Extremadura

Broccoli has become the fashionable winter crop in the plains of the Guadiana. The pioneer, 19 years ago, was the agricultural society of Medellin. Back then, nobody was planting it in Extremadura and it carried out the first tests. Afterwards, it consolidated as an alternative to get some money out of the empty winter lands and nowadays it is their primary crop, with two harvests per year thanks to the sale contracts closed with the freezing industry.

Teresa López is the manager of the cooperative and witness of this development. Until three years ago, the two hundred hectares of Medellín was all there was, but at the moment, she estimates that there must be more than a thousand hectares planted in the area.

There are two reasons to explain this boom: the drought in eastern Spain and the market conditions.

The region of Murcia and the entire Segura basin is the biggest producer of broccoli in Europe, followed to a lesser extent by the Ebro Valley and Navarre. Severe water restrictions due to drought in the area have hampered the production and forced horticultural operators to seek alternative producers. For now, the areas along the Guadiana have the necessary climate and water to supply what Murcia is unable to.

In Teresa López's experience, Extremadura has traditionally been the alternative for horticultural suppliers. It was the quota with which they complemented their sales contracts. Now, however, it has gained a stronger position and there are companies willing to buy three times as much from the region compared to what they purchased this campaign.

In addition to the drought, the market also has an impact. The consumption of this vegetable continues to rise globally and Spain ranks first among the exporting countries. Teresa López highlights, above all, the effective promotional campaign that the industry has carried out in recent years to recommend it as a healthy food.

At the Medellín cooperative, with almost two decades of experience in the sector, they believe that consumption has not yet reached its peak and that demand will continue to grow in the medium term. With this panorama of production shortages due to drought and the strong demand, it is not surprising that the broccoli that is harvested in the plains of the Guadiana has reached prices of over 70 cents per kilo. The price has been the perfect way to attract other producers towards its cultivation.


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