In the last decade, the Region of Murcia's agricultural acreage has been reduced by 144,000 hectares, which at the time were used for rainfed crops, but which have been abandoned due to the low profitability and the location of the plots. These lands, as explained by different agrarian organizations in the Region, mostly ended up becoming forested areas. That is why according to data from the 2017/2018 Agricultural Statistics report of Murcia, the Region won a total of 123,939 hectares of forest between 2013 and 2018.
The amount of land occupied by rainfed herbaceous crops has been reduced by 2,800 hectares in the last six years, while that of irrigated woody crops is down by 1,120 hectares. The reconversion of the land has also resulted in many of these lost hectares now being exploited with other crops. Woody rainfed productions have gained 8,000 hectares, and irrigated herbaceous crops have gained almost 4,000 hectares between 2013 and 2018.
Coag, Upa and Asaja, the three main agricultural organizations in the Region, denounced this month that production costs had increased by 30% in the last three years, and agricultural income in the Region had fallen by 9% in 2019. The profitability crisis of recent campaigns has led these organizations to speak of a growing abandonment of the fields by both experienced and young people.
Pepe Herrera, from Cieza, is one of the Murcian producers who have decided to abandon the field and all his plots devoted to the cultivation of stone fruit trees in Vega Alta.
In the latest campaign, this producer lost 20,000 Euro because of the high production costs derived from the expenditure in pesticides, fertilizers, energy, water, storage or labor; and the little money he has received for the volumes sold. In June 2019, Pepe got 42 cents per kilo for his nectarines, 32 cents for his peaches and 30 cents for his Paraguayo peaches, which are unsustainable prices.
Pepe does not blame anyone "except the distributors," which he accuses of bringing products from third countries without sanitary controls. He has been losing money for three years, so he has decided to give up.