Oranges are the economic engine of the municipality of Cordoba de la Vega del Guadalquivir, Palma del Rio. This town has 20,910 inhabitants and, according to Elena Quiles, vice president of the Employers Association EMPA, the people who don't work with oranges also live from them. In this regard, the mayor of Palma del Rio, Esperanza Caro de la Barrera, said that more than 50% of the active population work in the orange sector, and that it is a mostly female workforce.
All of this despite the fact that 50% of the production is sold outside of Palma del Río, and it's not normalized and commercialized here, stated Juan Martinez, vice president of the Palmanaranja Citrus Professional Association and CEO of Guadex. Palma is a very important point because many strong companies in the sector are concentrated in the Guadalquivir Valley. 70% of what is normalized in Palma del Rio is exported, stated Martinez, while the rest is for juice.
According to the head of Palmanaranja, whose nine partners in Cordoba and Seville manage more than 17% of the production of both provinces, the important thing is that the companies here produce, normalize, and market the product. That generates a good amount of employment. "In fact, the cycle now runs from late September to June. Producers are growing new varieties and there are more planting areas, so the campaign has gone from lasting five months to nine months; generating stable employment," he stressed.
However, he added, producers must unite to decrease the 50% that still leaves the area. "There's a lack of union in production. Producers must become stronger in that sense," Juan Martinez acknowledged. "Otherwise, people from other areas could take the product, and the area would lose the opportunity to add value to the product."