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Spain: Start of artichoke campaign marked by drought

The artichoke season has officially started in the Vega Baja del Segura with a cutting ceremony carried out in the municipality of Dolores. The person invited this year has been the comedian, actor and theatre director Eloy Arenas.

The president of the Artichoke Association Vega Baja del Segura, Diego Martínez, has pointed out that the "drought has slowed down the sector's plans" for the crop's expansion which has been underway for some years. Martínez explained that between 2012 and 2016, 300 hectares of artichokes have been planted in the Vega Baja, which means that the acreage has increased by more than 20% in four years.

The president of the association says that in normal circumstances, there would have been new increases in both acreage and production this campaign, but the shortage of water and the lack of guarantees about there being enough available has prevented new plantings and, therefore, the acreage devoted to this crop is going to remain stable compared to the previous season, with around 2,000 hectares.

Regarding the production, Martínez points out that "everything will depend on the water we have available for this campaign, so it would be very risky to talk about figures now, when there are still many months ahead and too much uncertainty regarding water availability." Given this situation, the president of the Artichoke Association Vega Baja del Segura has called for "a solution to be found so that this problem can be solved once and for all."

"We cannot depend on the rain, and we cannot just talk about these problems every other year. It is not fair for producers to pay for the consequences of the lack of water in this area, which is the garden of Spain and Europe. The region does not deserve this situation."

Diego Martínez adds that "the threat is not only from the drought, but also inicludes the canned artichokes coming from Peru, or the frozen ones from Egypt."

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