Luis Miguel Fernandez, the managing director of Coexphal, made a presentation within the framework of the ODS agroAlmeria agri-food conference, which was recently held at the University of Almeria, about how the agricultural sector in Almeria has contributed to the settlement of the population and to increase per capita income thanks to a non-subsidiary and highly competitive model that is capable of supplying healthy food to 500 million Europeans all year round.
According to Fernandez, Almeria's Model is based on solar greenhouses, which are productive, sustainable, and profitable. “Only 1.6% of the income of farmers in this province comes from subsidies while the Spanish average is 20.8%. Together, the subsidies in Almeria and Granada account for less than 4% of the Andalusian total, despite contributing almost 35% to the agricultural income of the Andalusian community,” he stated.
Regarding environmental sustainability, greenhouses occupy 3.4% of Almeria's territory and generate 40% of its GDP (gross domestic product), while 49.7% correspond to protected areas. On the other hand, Almeria is a world reference area in the use of biological control, which today is implemented at 50% in production, reaching almost 100% in some crops such as peppers, he stated.
According to Fernandez sees, this is Almeria's great competitive advantage. "We are Europe's vegetable garden in winter, now we must be its organic vegetable garden," he stated. The province's main competitors are not ready to do this. Morocco doesn't implement this model and cultivation in the Netherlands is soilless so it cannot be certified as organic. "We are practically alone," he said.
In addition, Almeria has gone from having 406 hectares with organic greenhouses in 2013 to 3,212 hectares in 2019, this is more than 10% of the cultivated area in the province. In addition, more than a thousand hectares in the province are transitioning to this type of production.
In addition, Almeria makes efficient use of its water resources, so its water footprint per capita is 20 times lower than the national average. It is also a sink for CO₂, as each hectare of greenhouse absorbs the daily emission of eight cars, half of the province's vehicle fleet.
Moreover, Almeria contains the highest concentration of agricultural laboratories and the highest rate of agricultural engineers per farmer in Europe, which helps this region to maintain the quality of its productions. In addition, Fernandez stated, Southeast Spanish agriculture is the most transparent production thanks to the 100% implementation of traceability, which they pioneered in agriculture in 1997.
The manager of Coexphal also spoke about the minimization of food waste thanks to the collaboration of the Association of Organizations of Producers of Fruit and Vegetables with 32 Food Banks.