Travelling to Madrid from Murcia, Alicante and Almeria

Spain: Sector joining forces like never before in protests against water shortages

The water shortages continue to worsen in Murcia, the south of Alicante and part of Almeria; so much so, that the open ground acreage devoted to the production of vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce or spinach, has been reduced by around 6,000 hectares in just one year, according to information provided by Proexport.

The uncertainty of whether the availability of water resources is sufficient to ensure production in the future has led many producers to "move" their crops to other areas in Seville, Albacete, La Rioja or Extremadura, where production has already gone from 300 hectares to 1,000 hectares in 2017, and which will exceed 3,000 hectares in 2018, as more growers are following the example.

These are areas with a lower risk of water shortages, but with other types of risks, such as frosts or showers. In fact, we have seen that this week in Seville and Extremadura, with significant damage to broccoli plantations. This situation has made it difficult to plan the production this year, with frequent supply peaks that have led to ruinous prices.

Faced with this situation of production relocation, which does not offer any guarantees of safety and is affecting not only the sector, but the economy of these provinces (mainly in Murcia), and given how the Spanish authorities are not proposing any solutions, a protest was held on Wednesday, 7 February in Madrid. This has brought all organizations together, including agricultural and university unions, irrigation communities and federations of cooperatives of the three provinces.

"Workers and representatives of the auxiliary industries, such as packaging companies, seed companies, etc., have also travelled with us. Also, many businesses and public institutions decided to close in order to show their support," says Fernando Gómez. "Something that differentiates us is the dialogue we maintain with our customers, representatives of large European retailers from countries like Sweden, the United Kingdom Germany or Poland, who understand that their supply is at risk for the future, and also support us, understanding that such protests are an important part of the solution."

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