The agricultural project of EDEKA and WWF, aiming for more sustainable conventional citrus fruit cultivation is successful. So successful that it has now taken root in two more Spanish regions: The 14 fincas in Andalusia have been followed by five more in the regions of Valencia and Catalonia. Now covering more than 1,500 hectares, they are saving on water, reducing pesticides and promoting biodiversity and soil fertility. At the current start of the citrus season, early clementines from the project are already available in EDEKA stores, and oranges as well, thanks to the new fincas.
"The expansion to new regions and fincas is proof of the successful project concept. It also benefits customers, offering oranges, clementines and mandarins from more sustainable cultivation and of the best quality," says Rolf Lange, Head of Corporate Communications at EDEKA headquarters. Last season, every fourth orange at EDEKA or Netto Marken-Discount was already sourced from the joint project with WWF.
"We are pleased to apply the knowledge we have gathered for more sustainable, conventional citrus cultivation in a new region in order to strengthen biodiversity on the farmland there as well," says Patrick Freund, head of the citrus project at WWF.
In Andalusia, fresh water is also becoming noticeably scarcer due to global warming, so the fincas are obliged to use it sparingly. In the last, very dry season, the project fincas harvested a good crop thanks to well-managed water use. They have thus proven resilient even in the face of fluctuating conditions.
By working towards greater sustainability in the field, therefore, everyone wins - customers, farmers and, not least, the environment. In total, just over 1.8 billion liters of water were saved across all farms in 2020. This means that the water consumption of the project fincas was on average more than a quarter less than the concessions allocated.
To achieve this, the fincas use soil probes and drip irrigation, for example. In addition to this, there is an overarching concept that focuses on the water situation in the respective region and aims to promote fairer and more sustainable water use. The fincas have also drastically reduced the use of pesticides: In 2020, a saving of more than 7,000 liters of pesticides was recorded compared to the year before the start of the project, and the use of pesticides was reduced by an average of almost 80 percent. Instead, the farmers rely on beneficial insects, such as ladybugs against aphids. Species diversity has also increased significantly: There are now 25 species of ladybugs on the fincas, for example, instead of seven at the start, and a number of rare animals, from badgers and otters to lizards.
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EDEKA und Zitrusfrüchte