Faced with a possible decrease in garlic production and a reduction in the hectares devoted to this crop, Castilla- La Mancha's garlic sector, the EU's leading garlic-producing region, has asked the Government of Spain and the parties responsible for the hydrographic confederations, to create joint strategies and a National Hydrological Plan that articulates the basin plans to guarantee a balance between the sustainability of the aquifers and the regions' economic profitability.
Juan Salva Peregrin, the president of the National Association of Garlic Producers and Marketers in Spain, (Anpcan) and current treasurer of the Purple Garlic PGI from Las Pedroñeras, told ABC that he is concerned about the water restrictions that are taking place in Castilla-La Mancha for irrigation of garlic and other crops.
Several areas are already very affected by this lack of water, as they cannot irrigate their crops, stated Peregrin. For example, 1,500 hectares in Balazote and Barrax, in the province of Albacete, are currently affected. In the province of Ciudad Real, several municipalities are being forced to reduce garlic production, due to the scarcity of water in Aquifer 23 and the Tablas de Daimiel (Ciudad Real).
According to Juan Peregrin, who grows garlic in Almeria and Cuenca, the ideal solution is to have a National Hydrological Plan that allows transfers from the confederations so that the country can transfer water from the areas that have more water to the most deficient areas. "What we ask is that water highways be built. We also need to improve our cultivation irrigation techniques," he added, presenting the implementation of drip irrigation, which is already being applied in Levante and Albacete, as an example.
He also said he was in favor of promoting research so that there are products that improve water consumption.
Producers don't know how the campaign will end this year as they are also facing a 25 to 30% increase in production costs, especially as a result of the rise in electricity, fertilizers, and leases, among other things, he stated. "It's still too early to say, but I think the harvest could decrease by around 10%."