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Spain: Artichoke cultivation sees resurgence in Seville

The cultivation of artichokes is resurgent in the Vega del Guadalquivir thanks to the efforts of the Marroco family, which has been devoted to the crop for several generations. In fact, they are currently the largest producers of this vegetable in Andalusia. Antonio and Alejandro Marroco, owners of the Sevillian company Artealca, based in Burguillos and specialist suppliers of the retailer Mercadona, expect the firm to produce "close to two million kilos of artichokes this campaign, as this year we have expanded the acreage to 110 hectares, supplemented by another 30 hectares cultivated in partnership with growers in the area."

"My grandfather emigrated to France in the 50's and there he learned about the cultivation of artichokes," recalls Antonio Marroco. When he returned, "he started to plant artichokes in La Vega, specifically in the municipality of Cantillana, where he gained some fame from the 1980's, reaching more than 300 hectares and working with two canning industries."

However, "after 1985, the crop's cultivation declined, and in just eight years, 90% of the acreage was lost, replaced by citrus plantations, so very few producers are still devoted to artichokes in the province of Seville. We are one of only two left," says one of the managers.

The average yield of artichokes ranges "between 12,000 and 14,000 kilos per hectare." It is a crop that is grown in irrigated land and which "hardly suffers any issues as far as diseases or pests are concerned, so a couple of treatments every six months are more than enough," he explains.

The artichoke harvesting campaign has just kicked off. The entrepreneurs stress that - "it is a very socially important crop which generates a lot of employment in the area." In addition to the production, the company is also in charge of the handling and processing, as Artealca runs a handling centre and canning facilities, so "we have up to 80 people employed."


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