As announced by the Catalan Councilor of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, Teresa Jordà, a pilot test is underway in the territory of Terres de l'Ebre to determine the viability of kiwifruit cultivation. The aim is to diversify the range of products that are grown in the region and expand their business opportunities.
"We have identified a number of plots with different types of soils and diverse climatic characteristics located in the Ribera de l'Ebre, which should serve to assess whether kiwifruit cultivation is really viable in this region, what varieties could be planted and what problems they would face," said the Catalan Government in a statement.
A study for crop diversification in the sweet fruit sector in the Ribera de l'Ebre concluded that cherries, kiwifruit and almonds would be three of the crops with the best chances of commercial success. In fact, the kiwifruit market is on the rise and Catalonia is a major consumer of this fruit.
This is being carried out as part of the Crop Diversification Plan promoted by the Regional Council to deal with the sharka virus, which has caused very serious damage to stone fruit trees in the Ebro area and has not yet been eradicated, despite the efforts of public agents, due to its rapid spread. The department has already compensated producers affected by it with 7.6 million Euro.
The Catalan Government is also granting up to 135,000 Euro in aid for the diversification of crops in the plots where it has been necessary to uproot and destroy peach and nectarine plantations affected by the virus.
Councilor Jordà said that the sharka virus "won't be fought with uprooting and compensating, but with crop diversification, switching from peaches, nectarines and other stone fruits to more resilient crops that won't be affected by the virus.".