Spain: Almeria's horticultural exports up 7.3% compared to last year

Andalusia's Councillor of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, Elena Víboras, closed the conference organised in Almeria by Andalucía Económica, highlighting that the province's fruit and vegetable exports have achieved a positive balance, with more than 2.3 million tonnes shipped; 7.3% more than in the 2012-2013 campaign. In her speech, Víboras praised the province's agro-food sector for its "great dynamism" and "focus on exports", recalling that Almeria's food and drink shipments represent 29% of Andalusia's total. 
The Minister stressed that since the setting up of the first greenhouses in Almeria about 50 years ago, "the industry has undergone dramatic changes, moving towards increased sustainability and competitiveness, with high quality agricultural products." It has also managed to adapt "to the requirements of international customers," reports the Council of Agriculture of the Government of Andalusia.

With over 242 hectares of greenhouses and nearly 2,000 hectares of crops, production has exceeded 3.4 million tonnes (13% more than in the three previous years). As for prices, these have stayed below those of the 2012 campaign, averaging 0.5 Euro per kilo due to oversupply.

In contrast, exports have registered a positive balance, with more than 2.3 million tonnes shipped, 7.3% more than last year, but the value has dropped by 0.5%, down to 2.053 million Euro. In any case, Almeria is Spain's leading horticultural exporter, accounting for 40% of domestic shipments.

Currently, biological pest control techniques are used in more than half of the province's greenhouse acreage, mostly with crops such as peppers and tomatoes. These methods, according to the Councillor, "allow for a significant reduction in the use of pesticides" and save costs for producers.

As for future challenges in the field of food safety, Elena Víboras commented that "the European Commission should take a more active role in the verification and monitoring of the alerts that are issued."

Elena Víborass admitted that "internationalisation processes are complicated," and has praised the position achieved by Andalusia in overseas markets, where they have sold fruit and vegetables worth more than 2,760 million Euro from January to August 2014 (a 3.6% increase compared to the same period last year).

As for the secret for the success of the Andalusian horticultural sector, the Minister stressed that this "is due, to a large extent, to its ability to adapt to changes, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by new markets outside the European Union."


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