Spain: More Almeria-based growers cultivate organic melons

The reduction of the acreage devoted to ​​melons in Almeria has been no secret for a long time. Sources from the sector have given all kinds of explanations about why this may be happening. They claim that the varietal development has not been optimal, that other producing areas are putting pressure on Almeria's campaign, or that there have been no strong efforts to make the melon production stand out, unlike in the case of watermelons.

Whatever the reason is, the figures show that more and more growers are abandoning melon cultivation. The acreage devoted to ​​this crop in Almeria has gone from 6,380 hectares in 2010 to just 2,340 hectares in the 2016/2017 campaign. The estimates for the current campaign point to further drops.

This year's campaign is following the trend of previous years. The total volume of melons marketed has fallen this year in Almeria for all varieties: Galia, Cantaloupe, Piel de Sapo, etc. Only organic melons escape this trend.

An analysis carried out by Coexphal up to 31 May 2018 reveals that this year, the volume of organic melons marketed until 31 May in Almeria has reached 223,227 kilos, which is 153% more than in the previous year.

Does this mean that organic melons could be the alternative for the crop to regain lost ground in the province? Sources within the sector are not so sure. The president of Biosol Portocarrero, Francisco Alejo, says that "it will be very difficult for the melon production in the province to go back to how it used to be." This company has approximately 200 hectares devoted to organic production, and of these "six have been allocated to the production of organic melons."

"When they have to do their melon and watermelon purchases, the supermarket chains prefer watermelons over Almeria's melons," explains Francisco Alejo, who adds that "for the time being, our customers are not going to give equal space to conventional and organic fruits and vegetables in their stores, so the margin for growth is small."

The president of Biosol Portocarrero points to another of the threats to the expansion of organic melons as a good alternative for the producer. "Morocco exports organic melons to Europe without established quotas, which is a handicap for our production, and there are other countries, such as Turkey or Bulgaria, that are growing a lot in this market segment," he says.

These factors are hurdles for the expansion of Almeria's melons, which also depends on the purchasing decisions of importers operating in the European Union.


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