Out of the extensive range of agricultural products grown in the province of Malaga, only one has obtained the prestigious Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) distinction, awarded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): the raisin grape from Malaga.
The GIAHS are aesthetically stunning landscapes that combine agricultural biodiversity with resilient ecosystems and valuable cultural heritage. They are located in specific parts of the world, where they sustainably provide multiple goods and services, food and a secure livelihood for millions of small agricultural producers, according to FAO itself. There are 62 SIPAMs worldwide, 4 of them in Spain, and Malaga's raisin production system is, for now, the only one in all of Andalusia since it was declared as such in 2017.
The fact is that Malaga's raisin grape, one of the province's flagship agricultural products, has allowed the preservation of a unique landscape, especially in the Axarquía, where the Moscatel variety vines are grown and continue to expand, despite the pressure from tropical crops in recent times. The area included in the GIAHS has a total of 28,039 hectares, 1,113 of which are devoted to grapes intended for the production of raisins. The average slope of the producing area is greater than 45% in more than half of the territory, with the vines and other woody plants actually preventing desertification.
Furthermore, the cultivation of Moscatel grapes in the mountainous areas of Malaga is very important for the agrarian economy of some towns such as Moclinejo, El Borge or Almáchar, as they are located in areas with steep slopes that have no agricultural alternatives. Thousands of families make a living from the crop.
The process to harvest the grapes and transform them into raisins is part of the culture of the region. The raisins are obtained by dehydrating ripe grapes of the Moscatel de Alejandría or Moscatel de Málaga varieties under the sun, which gives them unique organoleptic characteristics that make them unmatched in terms of sweetness, texture and color. During the 18th and much of the 19th century, this turned them into one of the most exquisite delicacies on European markets.