ANDALUCIA is leading Europe in both the production of organic products and the use of renewable energy.
The massive growth in the ecological sector has seen Spain overtake Italy for the first time as the continent’s key producer of healthy fruit and vegetables.
As the Olive Press launches its sister publication the Green Guide 2009, it has emerged that Spain has 1.25 million hectares certified as organic, in comparison with just 1.15m in Italy.
Some 784,000 hectares – or around 65 per cent of Spain’s total – are located in Andalucia.
According to recent figures released at Europe’s biggest environmental fair, Biofach, in Germany, the growth has also seen a massive increase in jobs with over 8000 companies now registered in the organic sector in Andalucia alone.
Across Spain the ecological sector has grown dramatically over the last year, despite the current crisis.
In Andalucia there has been a 34 per cent increase in production from December 2007 to 2008.
There has also been a 24 per cent growth in points of sale and a 12 per cent increase in businesses.
According to Junta Organic Agriculture boss Jose Roman, the industry is fighting the current economic crisis in a “very relaxed” way.
The news comes as it emerges that over 30 per cent of the energy produced in Andalucia comes from renewable sources.
Of this a staggering 70 per cent comes from wind power and only 20 per cent from solar energy.
It is not surprising with the recent news that one one day in November last year, the wind turbines in Cadiz alone produced 43 per cent of Spain’s energy needs.
The only down side is the news that the average Andalucian spends just SIX EUROS a year on organic products.
Across Spain the figure rises a little to 12 euros, but this is a tiny amount compared to the European average of 50 euros a year.
In Switzerland the average resident spends 115 euros a year.
This is, however, as much to do with availability as demand. “Despite so much being grown here it is still very hard to get hold of organic produce here,” says Lies Wajer, a Dutch organic farmer from Ronda.
“We need to work very hard to make it available and educate people.”