But while it has helped Spain to overtake Italy as Europe’s leading producer, at just six euros a head, region is one of the smallest organic consumers
THE locals may not give a fig about buying it, but Andalucia has become Europe’s largest producer of organic products.
The massive growth in the ecological sector – 34 per cent a year – has seen Spain overtake Italy for the first time as the continents’ key producer of healthy fruit and vegetables.
According to figures released at Europe’s biggest environmental fair, Biofach in Germany, Spain has 1.25 million hectares certified as organic, in comparison with 1.15m in Italy.
Some 784,000 hectares – or around 65 per cent of Spain’s total – are located in Andalucia.
The growth has led to a massive increase in jobs with over 8000 companies now registered in the organic sector in Andalucia alone.
But the news comes as it emerges 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.
According to green specialists this is as much to do with availability as demand.
“Despite so much being grown 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.” 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.